Do you have a space between your two front teeth? There's a name for that: that space is called a midline diastema. Diastemas form naturally in childhood – it's a normal part of your mouth development as your baby teeth fall out and are replaced by adult teeth. But for some adults, the diastema never closes. If it causes problems or bothers you, there are several ways to treat it.
One way to fix a diastema is with orthodontic work – namely, braces. Diastemas can occur because the other teeth around those two front teeth are crooked. If the teeth around your two front teeth overlap with each other, that can cause gaps that those two front teeth drift into. And if they drift in opposite directions, the result is a gap.
Braces are a routine way to fix this type of diastema. The braces help push the teeth back into a position where they're straight and even, closing the gap. Depending on the severity of your tooth misalignment, you may have several options for braces, including wires and brackets, invisible braces, or lingual braces applied to the backs of your teeth.
If your teeth are only mildly misaligned, or if the diastema stems from some other problems, like teeth that are undersized for your mouth, then braces may not be necessary. In this case, a cosmetic dentist may be able to fix the diastema with porcelain veneers.
Porcelain veneers are something like a false front for your teeth. The dentist will remove some of the enamel from your existing teeth and apply the veneers over the top, giving you the appearance of straight, even teeth with no gap.
Porcelain veneers are considered a permanent cosmetic change because of the enamel that must be removed. They don't last forever, so you'll need to have them replaced eventually.
A less expensive alternative to porcelain veneers is dental bonding. This involves the dentist adding dental composite – the same white resin material used in white fillings – to each tooth to make it slightly wider. This effectively fills the gap.
While dental bonding is a less expensive option, it's also not as long-lasting as veneers, so if you choose this method, you may need to have the bonding replaced more frequently.
It should be mentioned that no treatment at all is an option. A small diastema is usually only a cosmetic issue that doesn't affect your bite or the function of your teeth. Some people prefer to keep the diastema, and occasionally people who are having their front teeth replaced with dental implants request a diastema be added.
There are even famous faces that wouldn't be the same without the diastema – Madonna is a commonly-cited example. If the diastema doesn't bother you and your dentist doesn't think it poses a problem, you shouldn't feel pressured to change it.
The best way to decide what to do about your diastema is to discuss all of your options with a cosmetic dentist. Your cosmetic dentist will help you decide on the best type of treatment – if any – for that gap between your teeth. Contact a dental office, like The Family Dentist, for more help.