The Gap in Your Teeth: Distinctive or Problematic?

Do you wish you had a more distinctive smile? Apparently, you are not alone. The modeling and entertainment worlds have triggered a new dental trend – asking dentists to create or widen a gap in the front teeth for a more fashion-forward look. Surprising? Perhaps, but with the popularity of gap-toothed celebrities like Madonna, Anna Paquin (of television’s “True Blood”) and top models Georgia Jagger and Lara Stone, among others, the gap-toothed trend is on fire.

Do you think it’s charming when someone has a gap in their front teeth? While the answer may be “yes,” there are some oral health issues you should consider before asking your dentist to add a gap to your smile. In order to create an artificial gap in someone’s front teeth, a dentist might file back the inside edges of the front teeth to create a space without shifting the teeth around. This is the safest approach, because a gap that is too wide may crowd the nearby teeth, causing unhealthy displacement or problems with the bite. A wide gap may also cause problems with chewing or speaking.

In some cases, people who naturally develop a gap may be best off leaving it there, if it balances out the bite and alleviates potential problems with the jaw. In other cases, your dentist may feel your gap is problematic, and will recommend you close it up.

How to Close the Gap

For younger patients, orthodontists will often close a gap with braces to encourage proper jaw development. For adult patients, one option for closing a gap in the front teeth is to use dental bonding. This is a cosmetic dentistry technique that uses tooth-colored composite resin bonded to the teeth to minimize the space.
A dental bridge can also be used to close a wide gap in the teeth. One type is a permanent or fixed dental bridge that is affixed “bridge the gap” between teeth. Another type is a removable dental bridge that you can take out yourself. The permanent dental bridge is bonded to the supporting teeth and can only be removed by a dentist. Either type can be constructed of porcelain, gold or alloys. There is also an implant bridge, which is usually used to replace missing teeth rather than to fill a gap between teeth. This type is a partial denture of artificial teeth that is attached under the gum tissue and directly to the jaw.

Good dental hygiene is essential for good maintenance of your dental bonding or a dental bridge. If you avoid hard or sticky snacks, and practice proper brushing, flossing and good overall dental hygiene, a dental bonding or bridge can last up to 10 years.

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