Gap Teeth: What They Are And How to Treat Them

Do you have gap teeth that you would like to move closer together in order to attain a more perfect smile? If the answer to this question is yes, then this article was written for you.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from crowded teeth we have gap teeth. The technical term for gap teeth is diastema(Or diastemata, if you have multiple gaps between your teeth rather than just the one, which is typically going to be between your front teeth). But for the purposes of keeping things simple for this article, we are going to be using the descriptive term, gap teeth.

As the name indicates, gap teeth are permanent teeth that have extra space between them. There are many causes for gapped teeth, and many good reasons to see a dentist about getting the gap closed.

If there is just one gap between a person’s teeth, it is likely to be between the upper lateral incisors, or front teeth, but gaps can really be anywhere in the mouth.

For some, having gapped teeth can be nothing more than an aesthetic differentiation, something that may produce uncomfortable self consciousness but otherwise be harmless. For others the consequences of having gapped teeth are more serious. Few are aware of this, but having large or multiple gaps between your teeth can lead to unpleasant dental problems and o there health problems including misaligned bite, constant pressure in the jaw, gum disease and even heart disease. In other words, getting your gapped teeth straightened out is not merely a cosmetic issue, but a healthy decision for your oral and overall health.

In this article, we are going to go over everything you need to know about gapped teeth, including underlying causes, treatment options and the very real consequences of not getting the right treatment for your gapped teeth.

What causes gapped teeth

So, what is the underlying cause of gaps between teeth? Let us go over the different factors that can play in.


The primary factor causing gapped teeth is genetics. Specific genetic traits can contribute to you having gapped teeth, including having a large jaw or a large tongue, undersized teeth, or even a combination of these traits.

In other words, tooth gaps can be inherited from your parents, and it follows that you may pass gapped teeth on to your children.

This is both good and bad news, because it means that, unless you are genetically disposed for developing gapped froth teeth or having large gaps between your teeth in general, your chances of developing diastema are relatively low.

On the other hand, if you are genetically disposed for gapped teeth, there isn’t much you can do, except seek out the correct orthodontic treatment.

Bad habits

No one likes to be told that their bad habits are damaging to their health, but sometimes it has to be said. There are a number of bad habits that can contribute to or even cause gaps between teeth.

The bad habits that can lead to gaps between teeth are thumb sucking and tongue thrusting – both of which are also known to cause impacted teeth, which come with plenty of problems of their own. In other words, if you are guilty of thumb sucking or tongue thrusting on a regular basis, it is time for you to consider how you can develop better habits.

Gum disease

Sometimes gum disease such as gingivitis can and does lead to gapped front teeth.

Because they are not completely firmly attached to the bones underneath, inflamed gums can result in loose teeth. In severe cases, inflamed gums can lead to tooth loss. A gap naturally takes the place where the tooth used to be.

Incorrect swallowing reflex

Yes, you read that correctly – incorrect swallowing can lead to gapped front teeth.

What happens if you dod not have proper swallowing reflexes is that the tongue, instead of pressing against the palate directly as it should, instead presses against the labial frenum, which is the connective tissue that runs the length of the upper lips and the gums.

Over time, the continual pressure causes the labial frenum to become enlarged by developing excess tissue that continues to grow over time. The extra tissue of the abnormal frenum may press itself through the front teeth, causing the two teeth to move further and further apart.

Why gapped teeth can be problematic

Having a gap between the front teeth is usually not a big deal – in fact, a small gap between the front teeth can give you a characteristic and charming smile, and if your case of gap teeth is minor, you probably don’t need to do anything about it.

However, if your case is more severe, you should look into getting treatment, for these reasons. Gaps between the teeth can lead to a number of more serious health risks and concerns.

Gum disease

Gaps between your teeth can cause gum disease such as periodontitis and gingivitis. 

The reason why people with gapped or missing teeth are more likely to develop gum disease is that food particles tend to get stuck in the gaps where they develop bacteria causing inflamed gums and ultimately gum disease. 

Heart disease

Heart disease is hands-down the most severe risk of having excess gaps between your teeth. 

If an oral health problem, such as gum disease caused by tartar and bacteria built up in the gaps between teeth is not dealt with effectively and immediately, it can quickly escalate into much more serious problems. 

An infection in your mouth can get into your bloodstream, which then carries the infection to your major organs including your heart.

Chewing problems

On a lighter note, there are plenty of milder risks of having gapped teeth. These include jaw pain, bad breath, misaligned bite and bleeding gums. While none of these issues pose a serious threat to your health, they are nevertheless very good reasons for you to seek treatment.

Treatment options for gap teeth

Now that you are thoroughly clued in on the causes of risks of having gapped teeth, you are no doubt wondering what the best treatment options are if you want your gapped teeth moved closer together.

Dental bonding

Dental bonding is a technique where the dentist applies a composite tooth colored resin to the sides of small teeth in order to bulk them up and fill the gaps between them. The color of the resin ensures that the final result will blend beautifully with your other teeth and overall smile.

Dental bridges, dental crowns, dental implants

Dental bridges, crowns and implants are all effective ways to fill gaps and achieve the effect of having extra teeth in the mouth. 

Porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers are a great treatment option if your issue is a small gap between the two upper front teeth. 

Veneers are thin, shell like pieces of porcelain that are bonded to the front of the teeth in order to make them slightly wider and stronger.

Orthodontic treatment

If yours is a more severe case of gap teeth, orthodontic treatment may be necessary in order to correct your bite and reposition your teeth.


Braces are the oldest form of orthodontic treatment and have been in use for over a hundred years. Of course, the braces we have today are much lighter and less bulky than braces were just ten or twenty, not to mention a hundred years ago.

Braces put pressure on teeth in order to slowly shift them not a more straight formation. Straightening your teeth and closing the gaps between your teeth using traditional metal braces can take anywhere from five months to a few years, depending on severity.


Invisalign treatment offers an effective and affordable way to close gaps between teeth, and to get your teeth straightened at the same time.

Invisalign clear aligners work very similarly to braces, by putting gentle but firm and constant pressure on your teeth in order to shift their positions. Invisalign treatment is usually faster than orthodontic treatment with braces, and can yield the same fantastic results.

If you are interested in getting your teeth straightened with Invisalign clear aligners, we recommend heading on over to the Invisalign website and learning more about the treatment and to find an Invisalign trained orthodontist or dentist near you today.


If you are fortunate enough to have a small gap between your two front teeth, there is no reason for you to seek treatment for your gapped teeth. In fact, a small gap between your teeth can be a charming aesthetic quirk.

However, if you have multiple gaps between your teeth, or perhaps one large gap where a tooth is missing, there are many hard-hitting reasons for you to seek treatment sooner rather than later. Moving your teeth closer together can do much to improve your smile, your confidence and your overall health. 

Fortunately, there is no shortage of accessible treatment options if you are dealing with gapped teeth. Dental bridges, bonding, crowns or implants can all help bring your teeth closer together, or even add more teeth to your mouth where they may be missing.

Another route involves braces or Invisalign aligners and works with your natural teeth and just bringing them closer together. We recommend this option if suitable for you, as it does not require any drilling or making any new additions to your existing teeth.

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