Diastema is common for children and can exist in adult teeth as well. Diastema is primarily caused by the imbalance in the relationship between the jaw and the size of teeth. If the labial frenulum (lip tissue) pulls, it can also push the teeth apart and cause a diastema between the center of the two front teeth.
Most of us have had a childhood picture taken when we had diastema or gaps in our two front teeth, and our parents point to the picture album crying, "How adorable!" However, this condition is, in fact, an orthodontic disease that has been plaguing millions of people worldwide and in some worse cases, even affects their confidence.
Here’re common causes of diastema include:
- Incompatibility between teeth sizes and jaw bone
- Habits such as an improper swallowing reflex and thumb-sucking
- Periodontal (or gum) disease.
Improper swallowing reflex and gum disease may lead to aches that force you to finally set that dentist appointment you're so anxious to go through with. One example of an improper swallowing reflex is the tongue thrusting habit. As exciting as that sounds, it's when you keep thrusting your tongue towards your front teeth while swallowing instead of letting your tongue hit your palate (roof of your mouth). The repeated force the tongue exerts on the front teeth pushes it, therefore, creating a gap. On the other hand, gum disease leads to losing bones which support your teeth. In turn, teeth become loose which may result to diastema.
Symptoms manifest differently depending on its cause. If it is due to an imperfect fit between teeth size and jaw bone, no symptoms occur. But when it is because of habits or gum disease, the space between teeth is highly likely to worsen over time, and it can even lead to discomfort and pain during eating.
Fortunately, you don't have to worry that much. Here are some of the ways so you don't have to suffer from diastema and its effects:
- Breaking bad habits. Tongue thrusting habit can be corrected through learning to push their tongues up their palates instead of thrusting it towards their front teeth. Thus, the widening of the spaces between the teeth can be prevented.
- Early/interceptive orthodontics. Treatment in young children around ages 6 or 7 may lessen chances of future dental problems such as diastema.
- Maintaining proper and consistent oral hygiene. This is the best way of prevention. Ensuring good oral health will lessen your chances of having future teeth or gum problems.