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Can A Dentist Help Me If I Have Teeth With Diastema Or Gaps?

Do you dread smiling freely due to gaps or spaces between your teeth? You aren’t alone – a significant percentage of people in this country have noticeable diastemas that cause them embarrassment or self-esteem issues.

The good news is today’s cosmetic and restorative dental treatments can successfully and permanently close tooth gaps in just weeks or months. And in doing so, these dental treatments can improve your confidence and self-esteem. Here is what you should know.

What leads to spaces between teeth?

Before exploring solutions, it helps to understand potential reasons you may have developed diastema in the first place:

Genetic predisposition

Spaced or irregular teeth can run in families. Many patients inherit an increased likelihood of gaps from parents or relatives, often linked to jaw formation and development. So in many cases, diastema is no one’s “fault” per se.

Overgrown labial frenum

This vertical band of tissue extends from the inside of your upper lip to the gum line above your front teeth. If it’s too thick or overgrown during facial development, it can put pressure on teeth and push them apart slowly over time.

Undersized or missing teeth

If you have a smaller size or congenitally missing tooth, adjacent teeth often tilt or drift toward the empty space and create gaps on either side. This tends to gradually worsen with age if not corrected.

Thumb sucking

Prolonged thumb sucking is a leading cause of diastema in women.  So, how exactly does it end up causing tooth gaps? Well, since a child often continues thumb sucking even after baby teeth fall out, this consistent vertical pressure for years in formative development can alter the positioning of permanent teeth too.

Tongue thrusting

Some patients subconsciously push their tongues against their teeth rather than rest them on the roof of their mouth. Much like thumb sucking, this constant forward pressure often creates spacing issues.

Nail biting

Bringing nails to the mouth excessively, especially as permanent teeth emerge, poses lateral stress. Over time, the pressure and scraping action can spread teeth outward.

Using teeth as tools

Many patients use their teeth to grip, tear, hold, or manipulate objects. Thread, bags, nails, and pens put strained leverage against teeth not designed to cope with shear forces long-term, widening gaps.

So in many cases, diastema isn’t anyone’s fault – simply an inherited tendency, overgrown tissue, or habit. But regardless of the original cause, a cosmetic dentist has solutions!

What are my options for closing the gaps between my teeth?

There are both cosmetic and restorative treatments to fix diastema. In general, having some cosmetic work done is usually enough to completely fix diastema and any related problems. 

Depending on your specific spacing case, your dentist may recommend:

Braces

Braces utilize wires, elastics, and metal or ceramic brackets bonded to the teeth to slowly pull them in proper alignment over 12-24 months. This gradually closes gaps without removing natural tooth structure.

How it works

  • An initial imaging scan creates a precise 3D model of your current bite
  • Custom brackets and wires apply calibrated pressure to tilt and nudge teeth millimeter by millimeter every few weeks
  • Progress is monitored and adjustments are made until teeth meet correctly without gaps

Pros

  • Less invasive and more affordable than veneers or implants
  • Permanently corrects bite alignment issues causing gaps
  • Covers some or all of the cost

Cons

  • Extended treatment time for gradual tooth movement
  • Dietary and activity restrictions
  • Can experience mouth pain and discomfort
  • Post-treatment retainers are required to maintain closure

Dental bonding

Bonding applies a putty-like resin material in matching tooth color directly into the gap. It’s contoured to the desired shape, hardened with curing light, then smoothed and polished.

How it works

  • The target area is roughened for the material to adhere properly
  • An adhesive agent is spread on the bonding site
  • The resin material is sculpted, cured, and shaped for seamless integration
  • Your bite is checked and adjusted as needed

Pros

  • Convenient single appointment procedure
  • The most affordable diastema solution
  • Mimics natural tooth shade/texture well when done properly

Cons

  • Material stains are easier than porcelain solutions
  • Higher rate of chipping or dislodgement over time
  • Replacement is needed every 5-7 years as bonding ages

Porcelain veneers

Veneers are wafer-thin shells of ceramic or porcelain material customized to the size and color of your teeth. Gaps usually close as veneers lengthen and reshape teeth for complete uniformity.

How it works

  • A medical-grade digital scan captures precise 3D anatomy
  • Skilled lab techs fabricate shells in the chosen shade
  • Teeth are subtly contoured for flush veneer fit
  • Veneers are tried on for shape and bite approval
  • A bonding agent permanently affixes the finalized shells

Pros

  • Mask underlying flaws like stains, chips, gaps
  • Range of stain-proof materials like ceramic, zirconia
  • Lasts 10-15 years (or indefinitely with proper care)

Cons

  • Higher price point
  • Slight tooth reduction is needed for ideal shape/fit
  • 2+ appointment process over several weeks

Dental implants

Implants are artificial tooth roots surgically inserted into the jawbone that permanently integrate over 3-6 months. A visible crown is then attached to complete the realistic replacement tooth. Often used to replace single missing teeth.

How it works

  • Start with cone beam 3D imaging of bone density
  • A pilot hole guides gentle tooth root extraction
  • The titanium implant post screws in the socket
  • Gums heal and the implant fuses with natural bone
  • Finally, a custom-made crown snaps securely in place

Pros

  • Strong, permanent solution for missing teeth
  • Preserves the integrity of the facial bone structure
  • Restores ability to eat and speak normally
  • Boosts facial symmetry and profile

Cons

  • The most expensive and technically complex procedure
  • The multi-step process takes many months
  • Moderate but manageable surgery-related pain

What should I ask my dentist about fixing gaps between my teeth?

To determine which route is right for your diastema, have an open and honest dialogue with your dentist. 

Here are important questions to get the conversation started:

  • What do you believe is the cause of gaps between my specific teeth?
  • Based on the spacing and its history, what are all my possible options for effectively closing them?
  • Can I see before/after pictures and case studies of similar patients you’ve treated?
  • For each prospective treatment, talk me through the total estimated cost out of pocket.
  • Does my dental insurance plan cover any portion of braces, bonding, and veneers? If not, do you offer independent financing plans?
  • What is the start-to-finish process – how many appointments, how many months until gaps fully close?
  • How much prep work is needed before getting braces/veneers/implants? Tooth extraction etc?
  • Will I experience any significant pain, discomfort, or recovery time after procedures?
  • What post-treatment protocols or lifestyle changes are needed? Retainers? Replacement schedule?
  • If I opt to just monitor my diastema but not actively treat it, what are the risks of further tooth movement/spacing? Could more extensive measures be needed later?

With personalized guidance focusing on your priorities, concerns, and budget, you can weigh the pros and cons fully before deciding how to achieve your ideal smile.

Most importantly – ask to see before/after photos of real patients with similar spacing issues. This gives you an accurate picture of the visual improvements possible so you know what to truly expect.

If the transformations impress you, that dentist likely has the experience, aesthetic judgment, care, and chairside manner to ensure you’ll finally smile with confidence after years of feeling self-conscious.

Diastema treatment cost overview

Afraid you can’t afford advanced dental treatments? 

You have options:

  • Many dental insurance plans cover a portion of orthodontics like braces or Invisalign. And some include annual maximums for restorative care like implants or veneers that significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs.
  • Most practices offer independent financing programs with low monthly payments, no initial down payment requirements, zero interest promotions, and quick credit decisions so you can pay gradually over time.

If finances still pose difficulty due to budget constraints, ask your dentist about potential payment plans, discounts, or referrals to low-cost clinics. Explain your situation openly and any reputable provider will work sensitively to achieve the best oral care within your economic means. Teeth spacing doesn’t have to worsen just because you currently struggle to pay upfront costs in full.

The bottom line is this – modern dentistry makes correcting longtime diastema faster, easier, and more predictable than ever before, even if you aren’t wealthy. So you CAN realistically achieve the straight vibrant smile you’ve imagined with a little thoughtful planning and partnership with dental teams invested in both your health and self-esteem.

Am I too old to fix my lifelong teeth gaps?

Almost everyone is sensitive about their smiles, no matter their age. It’s understandable to worry “I waited too long into adulthood” for dental care as more pressing priorities come up over the years.

The fantastic news is – it’s truly never too late to have spacing, irregularities, stains, chips, or missing teeth corrected by an experienced cosmetic dentist. Contrary to outdated beliefs, today’s minimally invasive techniques allow for quick, comfortable procedures with little lifestyle disruption.

For example, dental bonding requires no drilling and is completed in a single office visit. Veneers and implants use advanced digital precision to artfully restore flaws faster than ever. Clear aligner therapy steadily nudges teeth in place month-by-month with virtually invisible trays.

Even patients in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond successfully and safely realign smiles they’ve hated since adolescence. And innovative new medical-grade ceramic and bonding resins mean restorations stay firmly secured without embarrassing mishaps.

Yes, the treatments take some time and financial investment. But rest assured, when you commit and follow your dentist’s recommendations step-by-step, you’ll look back amazed that you avoided this lifting of spirit and self-confidence for so long!

You deserve to embrace life with a complete smile free of spaces or irregularities at ANY age. Don’t let outdated worry about “corrective dentistry risks” or stigma stop you from finally addressing this source of insecurity.

Overcoming embarrassment about my smile

It’s completely understandable to feel self-conscious or embarrassed about spaced, stained, worn, or flawed teeth. Even admitting issues openly to a new dentist provokes anxiety.

But here’s the simple truth – dentists aren’t judging you AT ALL. They genuinely want to help patients smile freely without constant inner critique or analysis – because confidence and self-expression impact everything we do.

The moment you step into a dentist’s office, you’ve already taken a HUGE step – no matter the state of your teeth. Be proud of prioritizing health and happiness despite past neglect, financial limitations, or failed cosmetic attempts.

Rather than dreading scrutiny, realize dentists see countless complex cases daily. Yours likely doesn’t shock or surprise them, even if you’re self-conscious about gaps or stains. Any embarrassment fades the moment they start discussing OPTIONS rather than limitations.

You’ll probably feel comforted seeing before/after photos of similar patients that demonstrate what custom modern treatments can achieve. And listening to the excited team describe step-by-step plans to solve issues can shift perspective radically away from shame.

Your flaws don’t define you – but a revitalized smile can redefine how you see yourself in this world and what feels possible. So take the courage to make that call and set up a new patient exam. The dentist isn’t there to judge – they’re there to transform not just teeth, but lives!

Final Thoughts

If you struggle with the appearance of spaces, gaps, or other irregularities between teeth:

  • There are logical physical, developmental, and habitual causes – so try not to feel personal fault
  • Today’s cosmetic and restorative dental options can successfully and permanently fix diastema in as little as weeks
  • Weigh all factors – cost, time, discomfort, changes, maintenance, etc – before deciding on a treatment path
  • Ask your dentist questions openly so you know what to expect each step of the process
  • Take advantage of flexible financing programs to make care affordable at any budget
  • It’s truly never too late to achieve the smile you desire – age poses NO barrier with modern techniques

Schedule a new patient exam and smile evaluation and you may be amazed at what a dramatic difference modern dentistry can make in boosting everyday confidence and self-esteem. You deserve to smile freely, bite properly, and live life without constant awareness of dental flaws.

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