Gappy teeth

How widely do attitudes to ‘Diastema’ vary? And just how effective are modern treatments aimed at reducing the gaps between front teeth?

Question: what do Elton John, Madonna, Condoleezza Rice and Chaucer’s fictional The Wife of Bath all have in common?

Answer: they all have (or had) ‘Diastema’ – a noticeable gap between the two front teeth.

For the likes of Elton John and Madonna, the gap became a bit of a trademark.

But for those of us who don’t want to have a gap between their teeth, different types of treatment are available – including porcelain veneers, composite bonding and the clear braces manufactured by Invisalign. London dentist Ethicare has helped many patients seeking these forms of treatment.

Attitudes around the world

Attitudes to gap teeth vary from culture to culture. In Nigeria, gap teeth often signify wisdom, beauty and fertility while in France they are called dents du Bonheur (‘lucky teeth’).

The model look

Today, models Lara Stone and Georgia Jagger have taken to the catwalk and won praise for their natural gap-toothed. On America’s Next Top Model reality show, a judge controversially suggested that one of the contestants should  even consider a visit to a cosmetic dentist to “exaggerate the gap between her teeth”.

Some people don’t need to exaggerate the gap – gap teeth can be caused by factors such as tooth size discrepancy and genetics (Mick Jagger’s genes might explain Georgia Jagger’s Diastema).

Glafcos Tombolis, who runs London dental practice Ethicare with his wife Klaudia, stresses that gap teeth is mostly an aesthetic issue – it doesn’t tend to cause patients any dental health problems.

3 ways of reducing the gap

  1. Treatment involving Invisalign Braces is often favoured by Glafcos and his team when they are realigning teeth with gaps between them. As Invisalign Braces are clear, comfortable and easily-removable, you can remove the gaps without having your lifestyle cramped.
  2. Cosmetic porcelain veneers are also a great, reliably predictable way of correcting spacing issues. These veneers are constantly getting thinner, keeping removal of tooth structure to a minimum.
  3. Over the past 20 years, composite bonding has become a viable alternative to braces and veneers when it comes to realigning teeth. Composite bonding works by using white filling material to reducing gaps – one of its many advantages is the ease with which it can be repaired and added to.

Retainers

Patients are naturally concerned that the gaps should reappear after orthodontic treatment but the correct use of removable, clear retainers will ensure that this isn’t an issue.

Length of treatment

“How long does it take to correct gap teeth?” is the question on many patients’ lips. Dr Tombolis of Ethicare says: “The answer naturally depends on the extent of the gaps involved. Sometimes it takes a year but often it takes as little as a month.”

With treatments such as Invisalign, porcelain veneers and composite bonding now available, there are happily plenty of options open to people looking to have the gaps between their teeth reduced.

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