A “diastema” is a dental term referring to a space or gap between two teeth. It is most commonly applied to the space found between the two maxillary central incisor teeth (upper front teeth). Diastemas can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, a tooth size discrepancy, a low muscle attachment between teeth known as a frenum, tongue thrusting, or spreading of teeth due to gum disease (periodontal disease). Traditionally, the treatment of a diastema involved the use of orthodontic therapy, or braces, lasting twelve to twenty-four months depending upon the severity. However, with new advances in modern cosmetic dental procedures, diastemas can often be corrected in as little as two painless visits!
Diastema’s can be found in a dental arch that has generalized spacing between many teeth. More commonly, diastema’s appear as a single space between the front teeth with all other teeth in the arch being in a normal contact relationship.
There are two ways to treat a diastema.
The first involves orthodontically moving the teeth together with braces, and this option usually requires one to two years of treatment. Many patients do not want to wear braces and seek alternative ways to close their diastemas. When the space between the teeth is one millimeter or less, the diastema can be closed by placing a bonded composite restoration on each adjacent tooth.
When the space is larger than one millimeter, or when more permanent and stronger restorations are required, porcelain veneers are the restorations of choice.
Porcelain veneers are eggshell thin pieces of porcelain applied directly over the tooth structure after some initial tooth preparation. Once the porcelain veneers are fused to the underlying tooth structure, they can reestablish the look of straight teeth and can close spaces without the use of braces. Additionally, the color, shape, and size of the teeth can be altered to the wishes of the patient for overall smile enhancement. And the greatest advantage of porcelain veneers is that the treatment can be completed in only two painless visits!