What Causes Diastema?
Tooth gaps occur for various reasons.
There may be a mismatch between the size of the teeth and the jaw bone, causing crowding of the teeth or more space between the teeth. Gaps may also occur when the teeth are too tiny for the jaw bone. In some cases, a tooth may be missing or just too small. This often occur with the teeth next to the upper front teeth called upper lateral incisors.
Certain habits may lead to space between teeth. Having improper swallowing reflex is one. Most people press their tongue against the palate (the roof of the mouth) when swallowing. However, some children have a unique reflex called tongue thrust (reverse swallow) – when the tongue presses against the front teeth, pushing the front teeth and creating pressure. This can cause diastema.
Thumb sucking is another habit that can create gaps.
Kids often have temporary teeth spaces once the baby teeth begins to fall out. However, these gaps resolves on their own when all permanent teeth erupts and reach their exact positions.
What are the Symptoms of Diastema?
If a tooth gap occurs due to mismatch between the jaw and the teeth, there will be no symptoms. But if it is caused by a periodontal disease or by a tongue thrust habit, the gap will expand over time. Pain may occur during biting or chewing and the teeth may get loose.
How to Prevent Tooth Gap in Kids?
Unfortunately, not all diastema can be prevented. One example is when a child has a mismatch of jaw size and teeth or if he/she has a missing tooth.
Breaking the habit of tongue thrusting can prevent diastema. You can correct you child’s swallow reflex by exercising their tongue, pressing it against the palate.
Preventing periodontal disease through regular brushing and flossing can help prevent tooth spaces.
How to Correct or Treat Diastema in Kids?
Some kids can get braces to simply move the two teeth together. When there’s an existing diastema, a child needs to wear a complete set of braces – both for lower and upper teeth. The reason is because closing any tooth gap can affect the whole mouth.
Another way to fix diastema is to widen a too small teeth with veneers, crowns or bonding. For missing teeth, a bridge, partial denture or a dental implant may be needed.
If your chid has a gap between teeth, talk to your pediatric dentist Bellevue. She can determine the cause for the gap and may advise treatment with braces.