Having gap teeth is known as a diastema. Gappy teeth are quite 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 when it's a tooth gap in the front teeth. Gaps between teeth are actually believed to bring wealth, fertility, or luck in certain cultures.
Here we’ll go through everything you need to know about gap teeth, such as:
- The definition of a diastema
- What causes a diastema
- Closing gaps in teeth with braces
- How to close gaps in teeth without braces
- Answers to some other common questions
We hope this article helps you decide the best course of action for the gaps between your or your child's teeth.
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 Do braces close gaps in teeth?
- 6.2 What can you do about space between front teeth?
- 6.3 Can a retainer fix gaps in teeth?
- 6.4 How can I fix gaps in teeth naturally?
- 6.5 Are gaps in baby teeth normal?
- 6.6 I have gaps in my teeth after braces, what can I do?
- 6.7 Does flossing create gaps in teeth?
- 6.8 How can I fix small gaps in teeth?
- 6.9 How long does Invisalign take to close a gap?
So, what is diastema? The simple definition of a diastema is a gap between teeth. It's most noticeable with gappy front teeth, but gaps between teeth 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 about maxillary midline diastema, between 1.6% and 25.4% of people have a general or midline diastema. That's quite a gap! Although these findings about gaps between teeth 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 are 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.
People with spaces between their teeth need to take extra care with their oral health. A water flosser can help, making it easier to clean gaps between teeth.
What causes gaps in front teeth?
There are quite a few different causes of diastema. The main cause of gaps between teeth is a mismatch in teeth vs jaw size. If your jaw is too big or teeth are too small, they won’t align properly. The size of your teeth and jaw can be determined by genetics, in such cases making diastema hereditary.
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 behavior, 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 between teeth.
What is a peg lateral?
Sometimes the second incisor which is next to the very front two teeth, doesn’t develop properly. This is known as a peg lateral, and the tooth is quite small and has a pointy shape. Because it is smaller than it should be, there might be gaps on either side.
How to close gaps in teeth
Closing gaps in teeth isn’t normally a complicated process, provided your case isn’t too extreme. There are various ways to close gaps in teeth, which you can read about below. Your dentist will be able to talk you through which treatment is the best way to close 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 gaps in front teeth or general 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 options for braces for a teeth gap.
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 to close a gap between teeth
Does Invisalign close gaps? In many cases, yes!
If you want to close gaps in teeth without metal braces, invisible braces like Invisalign to close gaps could be a good choice. These clear aligners are very hard to notice, unlike conventional braces for a teeth gap, but they are still an effective treatment for mild and moderate cases of teeth spacing. They also have the added convenience of being removable.
At-home clear aligners are another great choice for those who want to close a gap between teeth at home, without metal braces. They are similar in appearance to Invisalign but 45–75% cheaper. Many patients have successfully gotten rid of gaps in their teeth with this sort of treatment, as it's perfect for mild to moderate cases of diastema.
There are lots of brands to choose from, but not all offer the same level of care and customer service. Have a look at some of the top brands available to see if one could work for you:
- Complete treatment 100% remotely
- Amazing customer service
- Nighttime-only option
- $1,395 or $83/month
NewSmile aligners are made from the clearest Essix plastic and come with a daytime or nighttime-only option to suit you. For just $1,395 you'll receive everything you need to straighten and whiten your teeth – and maintain your new smile:
- Home impression kit
- Full aligner treatment
- Free whitening
- First set of retainers
- A full refund if you're not a good fit
NewSmile go above and beyond to provide a great experience to all their customers, beginning with a live video call to help you with your teeth impressions. Mail these back, and they'll send a 3D Treatment Preview for you to approve before going ahead.
- Complete treatment 100% remotely
- 6 month average treatment time
- Nighttime-only option
- $1,145 or $95/month
If you're looking for the best value aligner package, here it is! For just $1,145 you'll get:
- Impression kit
- Full aligner treatment course
- Free teeth whitening kit
- Your first set of retainers
In short, everything needed to straighten your teeth remotely and keep them looking great, with a full money-back guarantee if you're not a suitable candidate.
This low price doesn't mean you're compromising on quality of care, though. ALIGNERCO just choose not to put so much into marketing, and they pass on the savings to their customers. They are also known for their responsive and helpful customer care, which is important when you're doing things from home.
Plus, if you're in New York, you can visit their SmileStudio for a free consultation and help taking your impressions.
Nighttime-only aligners are also available for anyone who doesn't want to wear aligners during the day.
- 3-4 month average treatment time
- Assessed and planned by orthodontists
- Includes whitening and first retainers
- $1,895 or $83/month
Byte's HyperByte technology uses High Frequency Vibration to help your teeth move faster and with minimal discomfort. Their average treatment time is just 3-4 months, compared to 6 months for most others.
Treatment includes your first set of retainers. You'll also get their BrightByte 3-in-1 foam to whiten your teeth, clean your aligners and freshen your breath. And their Byte-for-life guarantee means you'll get free adjustments if your teeth start to move again.
Begin by ordering an impression kit so their orthodontists can assess whether you're a good match.
If you're interested in this type of treatment but not ready to commit just yet, you can begin by just taking a free assessment to check your eligibility.
How can I get rid of gaps in teeth without braces?
Braces and aligners aren’t the only ways to fill gaps in teeth. If you want to close gaps in teeth without using other techniques, two other options 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. As an aside—you may need braces to close gaps in your front teeth, but spacers for teeth around your molars in the back to make more space for teeth movement!
Your dentist will discuss which treatment is most suitable for you, but here we’ll go through the pros and cons of each option for closing gaps in teeth without braces 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 color. 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 teeth veneers.
Veneers can help cover up small gaps in teeth naturally, but the results may not look so good if used for big gaps in teeth. 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.
Diastema closure with composite bonding
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 teeth. You can read more about the procedure for tooth bonding here.
In the following video, Brittany talks about her treatment with bonding and getting the gaps filled in her teeth without braces.
Veneers vs. bonding for a diastema
The table below summarises the two main options for treating a diastema without braces, including costs:
What does it involve?
A porcelain cover is applied to the teeth, made slightly wider than the teeth to fill in a gap
A composite material is added directly to the teeth to build them up, increasing the size of the teeth to fill the gap
How long does it take?
2 visits – one consultation and another 1-3 weeks later for fitting
Can be done in one visit
What does it cost?
$500 - $2,500 per tooth
$250 - $1,200 per tooth
Long lasting and hard wearing
Fast and lower cost
Takes away some healthy tooth, takes two dentist visits, only works for small gaps
Will need touching up – bonding lasts up to 5 years, only works for small gaps
How much does a diastema closure cost?
Filling gaps between teeth is unlikely to be considered a medical necessity, and therefore state-funded insurance usually doesn't cover diastema closure costs in the US. Although your private insurance might.
Children and adults with severe cases of teeth spacing, perhaps as a result of hypodontia, or congenitally missing teeth, may be eligible for braces and then dentures or dental bridges to fill the gaps. Medicaid and CHIP also covers treatment for periodontitis, which may be the cause of gaps between teeth. Read more about dental services covered by Medicaid.
We've already covered the prices for veneers and bonding in the table above. And while there are less expensive options like with Snap-on veneers and Instasmile, you get what you pay for, as you can see in our Instasmile reviews.
Treating diastema teeth with braces costs between $2,000 and $13,000, depending on the type of braces used. For more information about the different kinds of braces to close a gap in teeth, you can read this guide.
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 between your front teeth, or between other teeth, so it’s best to see a dentist for a proper assessment.
Closing gaps is reasonably straightforward and traditional braces aren’t always necessary. People with gaps in their front teeth, in particular, can get great results with removable aligner braces like Byte aligners, NewSmile aligners, Candid aligners or ALIGNERCO clear aligners. You can read more about the best invisible braces in our separate article.
Do braces close gaps in teeth?
Yes. Especially if your diastema is more severe, braces to close a gap in teeth may be the only option available to you. If you require slight correction, at-home clear aligners are a good solution.
What can you do about space between front teeth?
If you have space in the front of your mouth, you can use orthodontic treatment to close the front teeth gap. Since this may only be a minor correction, you can use Invisalign to close gaps. In this case, you may also be able to close a gap in your teeth at home with clear aligners.
Can a retainer fix gaps in teeth?
Teeth retainers are limited in what movement they can achieve and don't deliver quick results. The normal course of action would be to have permanent or removable braces. These would correct the diastema and then you would wear a retainer to maintain the new alignment.
Removable aligner braces are probably the closest option to a retainer, since they aren't attached to your teeth like traditional braces. They are also far less noticeable than a metal wire retainer.
How can I fix 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. But if you mean how can you close gaps in teeth at home, without professional help, then there really is no safe way.
There is a trend for people to use elastic bands to close gaps in their teeth by trying to 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 to close gaps in your teeth if you’re worried about the appearance of your smile.
Are gaps in baby teeth normal?
Put simply, yes, gaps are normal in baby teeth. At this age, the jaw is still developing and may progress faster than teeth growth. It's also natural for there to be gaps with the first 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.
For the most part, 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.
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, talk to the dentist 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. It is possible that you are catching your gums as you floss between your teeth. This could cause them to start to recede.
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.
How can I fix small gaps in teeth?
If you do not have severe diastema but are worried about the appearance of your smile, you may be able to get veneers to hide the gaps, although they won't actually fix the problem.
How long does Invisalign take to close a gap?
If your tooth gap is relatively small, Invisalign can take as little a six months. For minor treatments, you may be able to use Invisalign Express which costs less than Invisalign Full. If the gap in your teeth is quite large, or you have additional malocclusion problems that need to be fixed, your Invisalign treatment could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
JADA: Treating a maxillary midline diastema in adult patients. Consulted 22nd June 2019. ResearchGate: A clinical case report on the treatment of mandibular diastema, associated with tongue interposition and tongue thrust swallow. Consulted 22nd June 2019.