Many celebrities are known by the gap in their teeth (Madonna, David Letterman, Michael Strahan). They smile with confidence… they seem to just, “own it”. There are some cultures in which a space between teeth is considered very attractive. For many others, it may cause less smiling and embarassment due to a lack of self confidence in their smile. In reality, most gaps between teeth can be fixed quite easily using cosmetic dentistry and/or simple orthodontics.
Gap Closure Procedure
The first step in any treatment is an evaluation by the dentist. Let him/her hear your concerns and evaluate the amount of space reduction needed to close the gaps between teeth. Common questions your dentist will ask themselves during this evaluation include:
-Will the closing of the gap cause any unforeseen bite issues?
-Using x-rays, are the roots of the teeth in good position and healthy enough for movement into proper position to close the gap?
-Will closing the gap cause new gaps between other teeth?
-Has the gap formed due to bone loss related to gum disease?
-Are the teeth large enough to fill the spaces, are other teeth missing?
-Was the gap caused by a habit, such as an involuntary tongue thrust issue, playing a reed instrument, biting pencils?
-Are the surrounding teeth and gums healthy and disease free?
Once a thorough examination is completed. Your dentist will discuss the various treatment options that are right for you.
-Dental Bonding. This cosmetic dentistry procedure involves the use of a tooth colored material to close the spaces. This material adhesively bonds to the teeth to close the gap. If the gap is too large, the result may be oversized teeth. The other drawback to this is that bonding can break or stain over time. Some advantages to bonding are preserving tooth structure by not cutting the teeth down, correction of size and shape can be done quickly( This procedure can be completed in as little as an hour in the dental office),It may last a long time if taken care of properly.
-Porcelain veneers or crowns. Closing the gap with porcelain is another great option. The nice thing about porcelain is that the color does not change or stain over time. The porcelain is also stronger than bonding allowing it to last a very long time. The downside is that the teeth generally need to be prepared by the dentist by removing surface enamel. The procedure also requires a second visit and the need to wear temporary veneers or crowns while the lab makes the final restorations.
-Orthodontic Retainers. A simple orthodontic procedure that can give amazing results. These retainers use springs, wires, and screws to slowly bring the teeth together. This procedure could take a few months with weekly adjustment visits to see the results you are looking for.
-Traditional Orthodontics. This includes brackets and wires. This may be needed when extensive gaps are present, teeth are missing, shifting has occurred in more than one location, the bite is off.
-Invisalign. This is a more modern form of braces. These are removable and made of clear plastic, and can also correct larger spaces.
You may choose to have” the gap” become a signature part of your smile. You may not. There is no shame in in either choice, but whatever you choose should be the decision that makes you feel happy and confident. Smiling is an important part of life and the way we show others how we feel. We should be able to smile with confidence! If it is something that has always bothered you it is worth exploring the dental options available to make your smile everything you want it to be.