Ladera Ranch, CA – The term diastema refers to a gap between the teeth. While some people embrace their gaps, like former football player and current TV host Michael Strahan, not everyone loves the way a diastema makes their smile look. So if you only want to close a gap between your teeth are braces really necessary? Can’t we just use a retainer of some sort?
Remember, retainers retain. They should just hold the teeth in their current position. If you want to MOVE teeth then we’re talking about braces or clear aligners. So, the short answer is yes, braces or aligners are necessary to close a space and for it to be stable long term. But why is that? Dr. Robert Gire of Ladera Ranch Orthodontics explains.
“It is safe to assume that if you are closing one gap in your mouth, you are altering your bite,” says Dr. Gire. “Not only that, you could very well be opening a new gap somewhere else in your mouth without even knowing it. Moving any teeth in the mouth affects the entire mouth.”
So, before you watch that YouTube video of a vlogger closing a gap in their smile using only rubber bands, consider scheduling an appointment with a certified orthodontist first. This is important because an orthodontist will be able to determine the cause of the gap in the teeth and then create a treatment plan that will properly address any underlying issues that may be present because of the gap.
Diastemas can result from a variety of reasons.
- Discrepancy in jaw growth or size of teeth
- Missing teeth
- Oversized frenum
- Habits, such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting
- Gum disease
“An orthodontist will be able to determine the cause of the diastema and the extent to which it affects the smile as a whole,” says Dr. Reza Salmassian, partner at Ladera Orthodontics. “This is important because how we address treatment may differ depending on the cause. For instance, if a diastema is the result of periodontal disease it must be treated and be under control before orthodontic treatment can begin.”
Periodontal disease doesn’t affect just the gums – if it worsens, it can actually cause bone to deteriorate, causing teeth to shift over time. This can create a diastema, but if a patient attempts to correct the diastema without addressing the periodontal disease first, it could damage the smile even further.
“When we shift only a portion of the teeth, we may then alter the bite completely. If the bite is then thrown out of sync it can have negative results on your oral health overall. An improper bite places uneven pressure on the teeth during biting and chewing. This can then cause chipping, breaking and/or cracking which can lead to the need for expensive restorations,” says Dr. Gire.
Not all diastemas require orthodontic treatment, however, if you have a gap that has left you feeling self-conscious about your smile, schedule a consultation with Ladera Orthodontics to learn how their experts can perfect your smile. Call us at 949-272-8782 to schedule a complimentary consultation.