Gapped Teeth (Diastema) | Our Guide to Gappy Teeth

A gap between the teeth (Diastema) is a common dental phenomenon that affects many people. Our two front-teeth are the most frequently affected by gaps, however, the phenomenon can occur between any teeth that are sitting side-by-side.

Some people love their gaps and the way they create a unique smile. For example, the ‘London look’ is a characteristic trait of many celebrities and models who enjoy the aesthetics of their gappy smiles – like Elton John or Madonna.

However, not everyone appreciates a gappy smile, and this can be attributed to a wide range of aesthetic and functional reasons. For example, some people find it harder to keep their gappy teeth clean or find that their gap may affect their speech. We explain some of the causes and potential treatments for gappy teeth below.

Causes of Gappy Teeth

The way our teeth are spaced is impacted by many different factors, and this is particularly true for young people whose teeth are still moving and changing as they develop.

For example, it is common for babies and young children to have gaps between their teeth, but often these will fill in as their dentition develops and the smaller teeth are replaced by adult teeth.

As we age, there are many different factors that can impact the development of gaps, and your dentist can help you assess any contributing issues. They may include –

  • Developmental dental issues
  • Missing teeth or extra teeth
  • Small teeth
  • Large jaw (i.e. teeth are spread out)
  • Misaligned teeth or bite issues
  • Events that can move teeth (i.e. dental trauma)

Another common developmental cause of the gap between front teeth is a low-lying maxillary labial fraenum. This is the string-like soft tissue that connects the lip to the upper gum, and during dental development, it may attach lower down the tooth and inhibit the closing of the front teeth.

Gaps may also develop between teeth if constant forces are placed on them, for example, from bad habits such as tongue-thrusting and thumb-sucking.

Treatments for Gappy Teeth

Your dentist can assess the gaps between your teeth, their long-term impact and offer a treatment plan that encompasses your individual needs.

Dr David Tuffley

Our team of general dentists, prosthodontists and dental hygienists tailor our treatment plans for each of our patients. We can find an approach that suits your needs, whether it’s a simple approach like composite veneers, or complex Prosthodontic based dentistry.

Often, gaps will naturally close over time and no treatment is necessary. In other cases, gappy teeth will not be associated with any major long-term oral health impacts. However, treatment may still be desired for aesthetic purposes and offer benefits like improving your confidence.

The types of treatment available for gappy teeth include – 

Prosthodontic treatment may be recommended for people with missing or deficient teeth. These gaps are different compared to the gaps between two neighbouring teeth, and typically require different interventions, such as dental implants.