A gap between two teeth is known as a diastema. Gappy teeth are really common in children but are generally not something to be worried about since the spaces often disappear as adult teeth erupt.
If you have a diastema or several gaps between your teeth after all of your adult teeth have come through, you may want to explore different malocclusion treatments for diastema closure. Or, you might not – some people choose to keep their diastema, especially between the two front teeth. It's actually believed to bring wealth, fertility or luck in certain cultures.
Here we’ll go through everything you need to know, such as:
- The definition of a diastema
- What causes a diastema
- How to get rid of gaps in teeth with different treatment options
- Answers to some other common questions
We hope this helps you decide the best course of action for the gaps between your or your child's teeth.
Do you want to close the gaps in your teeth without braces fixed to them? Invisalign clear aligners are subtle yet effective, making them a very popular diastema treatment. Invisalign is suitable for 90% of cases and you can check here to see whether you're a good candidate.
They have a large network of providers throughout the UK so you will receive attentive care throughout your treatment.
Table of contents
- 1 Diastema definition
- 2 What causes gaps in front teeth?
- 3 How to close gaps in teeth
- 4 How much does a diastema closure cost?
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 FAQs
- 6.1 Can a retainer fix gaps in teeth?
- 6.2 How can I fill gaps in teeth naturally?
- 6.3 How can I fill a gap between teeth at home?
- 6.4 Are gaps in baby teeth normal?
- 6.5 I have gaps in my teeth after braces, what can I do?
- 6.6 Does flossing create gaps in teeth?
- 6.7 Do gaps in teeth get bigger with age?
- 6.8 How long do braces take to close a gap?
The simple definition of a diastema is a gap between two teeth. It's most noticeable with gappy front teeth, but spaces can occur anywhere in the mouth. A gap in the lower teeth is called a mandibular diastema whereas a gap in the front two teeth is called a midline or median diastema.
According to this report in the Journal of the American Dental Association, between 1.6% and 25.4% of people have a diastema. That's quite a gap! Although the findings are presented in a fairly technical way, it's worth scrolling through if you want to see some pictures of diastema closure before and after.
Gaps in baby teeth are pretty normal because at this stage the jaw is still growing and the teeth developing. As children grow up, lose their milk teeth, and get their adult teeth, any spaces often close naturally. If gaps are left then you can seek advice from a dentist.
Do you want to know what your teeth would look like after treatment to close your diastema? Invisalign have a smart tool which gives you a smile visualisation for free and with no obligation. Just upload a selfie and wait a moment for your result. Click here to give it a try!
What causes gaps in front teeth?
There are quite a few different diastema causes. The main one is a mismatch in the size of teeth vs jaw size. If your jaw is too big or teeth are too small then they won’t align properly because there is too much space in the mouth.
A diastema is a term for a space between teeth, often the upper front teeth in particular. For children, a gap noticeable between front teeth isn’t generally harmful and will usually close when their permanent teeth come in. Teens and adults may choose to have a diastema closed for cosmetic reasons. Treatment options include both orthodontic closure or restorative treatment to widen the teeth, like porcelain veneers.
A diastema between posterior teeth can be a food trap, and aside from being annoying, could lead to bone loss or tooth decay. Some spaces may open as a result of missing posterior teeth putting excess forces on the remaining teeth. Finally, underlying periodontal disease is a common reason for spaces developing.
Often, however, a diastema is mainly a cosmetic issue and each patient will have to decide whether it’s something they can live with or not.
Dr. Greg Nalchajian, Nalchajian Orthodontics
Gaps in front teeth can also be caused by extra tissue growing above the teeth. The bit of skin between your lip and top front teeth is called your frenum and this can overgrow sometimes. If it does grow too much it can force a diastema between your two upper front teeth.
Other things that cause a diastema are generally based on behaviour, such as:
- Thumb sucking
- Tongue thrusting
- Poor dental hygiene leading to gum disease
Thumb sucking will normally cause a midline diastema because this is where the thumb exerts pressure. Tongue thrusting can cause a mandibular diastema if the tongue is pushing against the lower teeth when swallowing. Both of these habits can be corrected in childhood to prevent long term issues.
If you suffer from periodontitis (severe gum disease), you could end up losing teeth. The infection can also lead to bone loss in your jaw which can make your teeth move and create gaps.
What is a peg lateral?
Sometimes the tooth called the second incisor – that’s the one next to the very front two teeth – doesn’t develop properly. This is known as a peg lateral. When this happens, the tooth is quite small and has a pointy shape. Because it is smaller than it should be, there might be gaps either side.
Crowns, teeth implants and veneers (see below) are all options for fixing a peg lateral.
How to close gaps in teeth
Closing gaps in teeth is normally quite straightforward. There are a range of options to choose from, including orthodontia, which you can read about below. Your dentist will be able to talk you through which treatment is best for the gaps in your teeth, since every case is different.
Closing gaps in teeth with braces
Braces can be used to adjust the position of diastema teeth and close gaps in the mouth. Larger gaps usually require treatment with braces, whereas smaller gaps can be closed in other ways – more on these in a moment.
You’ll need to wait until all adult teeth have erupted before braces for a diastema can be considered. This is because a child’s jaw can grow at a different rate to their teeth, and the mix of milk teeth and adult teeth can cause natural spacing between teeth. Once everything has developed, if any problems still persist then your dentist will discuss different braces options.
In this time lapse video you can watch the progress made by one patient with metal braces to close the gap in his front teeth:
Invisalign for a diastema
If you want to close gaps in teeth without metal braces, consider invisible braces like Invisalign. These clear aligners are very hard to notice, unlike conventional braces, but they are still an effective treatment for around 90% of patients with teeth spacing. They also have the added convenience of being removable.
Do you want to check whether you might be a suitable candidate for diastema treatment with invisible braces? Invisalign's Smile Assessment tool can give you an answer in just two minutes – and it's free to use. Click below to get started:
If you'd prefer to discuss your treatment options in person, search for Invisalign dentists in your area and book your first appointment online. Most offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
Invisalign is one of the best-known and most established brands in this market and their aligners work for 90% of orthodontic cases. However, there's also the option of at-home aligner solutions like Straight My Teeth.
With Straight My Teeth, you can do everything from home. You take impressions of your teeth using a kit they send you, and then your aligners are posted out to you. A dentist or orthodontist monitors your treatment online to check your teeth are moving as planned. Because you're not paying for in-office checkups every few weeks, this diastema treatment costs just £999.
It's easy to check whether you're eligible for £999 aligners with Straight My Teeth, just visit their website to complete their quick and free assessment. Then you can order your impression kit and get started!
Both of these brands provide effective diastema closure but you'll need to decide which is best for you based on the complexity of your case, the amount of face-to-face contact you want with a dentist, and your budget.
How can I get rid of gaps in teeth without braces?
Braces and aligners aren’t the only solution for filling gaps in teeth. The two other options that may be offered are veneers and composite bonding. These are best for closing just one or two gaps; if several of your teeth are over-spaced then braces may be a better option.
Your dentist will discuss which treatment is most suitable for you, but here we’ll go through the pros and cons of each to help you understand your options.
A porcelain veneer is a thin cover that fits on top of your natural teeth to alter the shape and/or colour. Fixing a small diastema with veneers is quite straightforward, but this treatment is only suitable for adults.
When filling gaps between teeth using veneers, the dentist simply makes the veneers slightly wider than the original teeth. When they are fitted, they meet in the middle and hide the gap.
Porcelain veneers usually require two dental visits; one to prepare the teeth and take measurements for the veneers, and another to fit them once they have been made in a lab. You can read more about veneers here.
Veneers can help cover up small gaps in teeth naturally, but the results may not look so good if used for a large gap. You don’t want to look like you have oversized front teeth! Dentists are good judges of what will look natural; they look at different smiles every day, after all, so you should trust your dentist's opinion about the best option for you.
With diastema bonding, a composite material is applied directly to the teeth – no lab work required. The dentist builds up and shapes the composite to give the desired appearance. In the case of filling gaps in teeth, the composite is used to extend the tooth slightly to close the diastema.
Composite material can be used to cover the original tooth completely, in which case it's called a composite veneer. It's also a common treatment for chipped tooth repair.
In the following video, you can see a dentist perform diastema closure with composite bonding on the patient's four front teeth. The material is applied to the sides of the teeth to fill the gaps, before being hardened and shaped.
Veneers vs. bonding for a diastema
The table below summarises the two main options for treating a diastema without braces, including teeth gap treatment costs for both:
How much does a diastema closure cost?
Closing gaps in teeth costs anywhere from £200 (for bonding to fill a gap between two front teeth) to thousands of pounds for porcelain veneers or braces.
We've already covered the prices for veneers and bonding in the table above. Treating diastema teeth with braces costs between £1,000 and £5,500, depending on the type of braces used.
Invisalign diastema treatment prices start at around £1,500 for people who need mild orthodontic treatment with Invisalign i7 or Lite. For more significant teeth movement, Invisalign Full will be more suitable. The best way to check the exact cost of Invisalign for your diastema is to have a consultation with an Invisalign dentist near you. They have a wide network of providers around the UK so you shouldn't have to travel too far.
If you're happy having your treatment carried out remotely, with no in-office visits, you could also consider Straight My Teeth's clear aligners. These are one of the most affordable treatments for simple diastema closure, costing just £999. However, they can't treat quite the same range of cases that Invisalign can.
Filling gaps between teeth is unlikely to be considered a medical necessity, and therefore the NHS usually doesn't cover diastema closure costs in the UK.
Children and adults with severe cases of teeth spacing, perhaps as a result of hypodontia (naturally missing teeth), may be eligible for braces and then dentures or dental bridges to fill the gaps. The NHS also covers treatment for periodontitis, which may be the cause of gaps between teeth.
A diastema, or gap in your teeth, is generally not a medical concern in itself. But, there can be underlying reasons you have gaps in your front teeth, or between other teeth, so it’s best to see a dentist for a proper assessment.
Don’t be too concerned if your baby has gaps in their teeth; this is quite common and may well fix itself when their adult teeth erupt.
Closing gaps in teeth is reasonably straightforward and traditional braces aren’t always necessary. Invisible braces like Invisalign, for instance, can treat around 90% of orthodontic problems. Don't forget, you can check your eligibility for Invisalign here or find a provider near you to discuss your treatment in more detail.
For milder cases, Straight My Teeth offers at-home aligner treatment for just £999. Or you might look at veneers to close a small gap between teeth.
Remember, if you'd like to see what you might look like before and after diastema treatment, you can make use of Invisalign's free SmileView tool. Just upload a selfie to see your results!
Can a retainer fix gaps in teeth?
Retainers can be used for some orthodontic treatments, but are limited in what movement they can achieve. Fixed or removable braces are a more effective way to correct the diastema, after which you can wear a retainer to maintain the new alignment.
Removable aligner braces are probably the closest option to a retainer, since they aren't fixed to your teeth like traditional braces. They are also far less noticeable than a metal wire retainer. You can quickly check your eligibility for removable aligner braces with Invisalign's free Smile Assessment, or book an appointment with your nearest Invisalign provider. Use this tool to browse providers in your area and find one offering free consultations.
How can I fill gaps in teeth naturally?
It really depends what you mean by ‘naturally’. Although braces, veneers, and bonding may not be considered natural, they are safe and effective and deliver natural-looking results.
There is a trend for people to use elastic bands around their gappy teeth to try and pull them together. The American Association of Orthodontists reported on the trend in 2017, saying that it could be dangerous and cause more damage than it is trying to fix.
Your dentist will be able to talk you through all of your options if you’re worried about the appearance of your teeth.
How can I fill a gap between teeth at home?
You could use a temporary filling material but this won't look good or be durable. A home teeth straightening kit is a better solution if you don't want to visit a dentist. It's still a good idea to have regular dental checkups to ensure good overall oral health.
Are gaps in baby teeth normal?
Put simply, yes, gaps are normal in baby teeth. At this age, the jaw is still developing and a child's baby teeth may end up looking spaced out. It's also natural for there to be gaps when the child has a mixture of baby and adult teeth.
If there are still gaps after their jaw has stopped developing and all the teeth have erupted, and they want to get their diastema fixed, then a dentist can advise which method would work best.
Read more about the development of baby teeth.
I have gaps in my teeth after braces, what can I do?
Braces are designed to correct the position of your teeth and give you a properly aligned smile. If you aren’t happy with the results of your treatment then refer back to the orthodontist who treated you. Do make sure that you wear your retainers as instructed after your treatment; this helps ensure your teeth stay in the correct position.
Does flossing create gaps in teeth?
There isn’t any reason that normal flossing would cause gaps to appear between your teeth. Flossing incorrectly could harm the gums and cause them to recede, creating the appearance of gaps between teeth.
Our guide on how to floss properly will help you with the correct technique. If you are worried about your gums or gaps appearing in your teeth, check that everything is ok with your dentist; it could be a sign of gum disease.
Do gaps in teeth get bigger with age?
As we get older our teeth can shift position and the enamel may begin to erode. This can cause gaps in teeth to get bigger with age. It's possible to get braces for gaps in teeth later in life, but you should also check that the tooth movement is not happening as a result of gum disease.
How long do braces take to close a gap?
This really depends how much tooth movement is needed to remove the gaps between teeth. Treatment with braces for a teeth gap can be as quick as three months, but it can be a lot longer if more complex treatment is needed. An orthodontist will be able to assess your case and provide a treatment plan.