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Understanding The Issue Of Diastema

by Andre Daniels

If you notice that large openings sit between many of your teeth, then you have a condition called diastema. This is most common between the two front teeth. If you are concerned about the issue, then keep reading to learn why it develops and also what you can do about it.

What Is Diastema?

Diastema is simply the term that is used to describe large spaces between the teeth. You probably know that teeth do not sit directly against one another, and this helps to keep the teeth from hitting, rubbing or compressing against one another. The result is healthy teeth that are able to bite and chew properly. 

The teeth are naturally spaced out in the jaw, and the teeth emerge as they develop. In some situations, the jaw is larger than normal and the teeth space out a bit too much along the bone. The result is a lower and upper dental arch that spans the entire width of the jaw and equal sized, bur larger, spaces form between each tooth. 

While basic anatomy is the most common cause of diastema, there are a few other reasons why the condition may develop. Teeth that never fully developed and emerged into the mouth and the malformation of the teeth are two causes. Thumb-sucking habits can cause the problem too. Children who have weak or improper swallowing reflexes and mechanisms may thrust their tongues towards the front of the mouth when swallowing. This can force the teeth forward and create spaces as well.

How Is Diastema Treated?

Diastema can be fixed, but your dentist will need to assess the issue and why it is developing. The most complete assessments will need to occur with children, because many of the diastema issues are related to childhood issues. While this is true, you may have had a thumb-sucking or swallowing reflex issue in the past that was never evaluated. As an adult, the issue has likely long since passed and braces can be used to help close gaps between the teeth.

Dentists will typically use x-ray images to complete assessments and to gauge the reason for the diastema. While braces can work to fix the problem, permanent correction often means wearing a retainer in the evening every night for the rest of your life. If you do not, then the teeth will often move back into a poor position and new spaces will appear. You may then need to go through dental straightening once again. For more information about resolving diastema, contact a business such as Reed & Sahlaney Orthodontics, LLP.