A diastema is a gap between two of your teeth, and it can occur anywhere in the mouth. Generally, however, they are found between the two front teeth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), most dental literature reports that between 1.6 and 25.4 percent of American adults suffer from a gap in this part of the mouth. And although this spot can be distressing, your dentist can help treat it over time. Dentists can specifically use teeth bonding for gaps to effectively camouflage this undesirable space.
What Is Teeth Bonding
Teeth bonding is a cosmetic dental treatment that makes use of a tooth-colored composite resin. Your dentist can carefully sculpt this resin into the appropriate shape and size to cover the gap between your front incisors.
The procedure itself is a fairly simple practice, and can be done in one visit to your dentist. First, your dentist will select a shade of bonding material that perfectly matches your own teeth. Next, the surface of your front teeth will be prepared to receive the bonding material. At this point, your dentist gently etches the surface of your teeth and then applies a conditioning liquid to make it easier for the bonding to adhere.
Applying the Material
Once your teeth are prepared, the bonding can be applied. This material has a putty-like texture that allows your dentist to shape and mold it while it's already in your mouth. When your dentist is satisfied with how it looks on your front teeth, he or she uses an ultraviolet light to harden the bonding in place. The bonding material is then polished to prevent it from irritating the inside of your lips, and once your dentist is done, you're all set.
Bonding can be used to close gaps between the teeth in some people, but keep in mind it is not a substitute for orthodontic treatment. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a number of patients with diastemas cannot be treated with bonding alone. If you have other dental problems in addition to your gap – such as crooked or crowded teeth or a misaligned bite – your dentist will recommend you see an orthodontist.
If your only dental problem is a small gap between your two front teeth, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary and your dentist can consider closing the gap with this common bonding procedure. He or she will be sure to let you know if you're a good candidate after examining your mouth, but always feel free to ask.
Is Teeth Bonding Right for You?
If your dentist tells you your gap is appropriate for bonding, there are still a few things to think about before you undergo the treatment. Some personal habits may make bonding a less desirable treatment for you, so make sure to discuss any of the following concerns you may have with your dentist:
First, the bonding material is porous, so if you smoke cigarettes or drink coffee regularly, the composite resin may become stained and take on a yellow appearance. If you are concerned about staining, your dentist may instead recommend closing your gap with porcelain veneers, which don't stain as easily. Nevertheless, your natural teeth can become discolored, so to keep them consistent with your veneers, incorporate a whitening toothpaste such as Colgate Total® Whitening into your home-care routine.
Another consideration is that the bonding material isn't as strong as your natural teeth. This means people who bite their fingernails or chew on pens may chip the bonding material because it's located on the front teeth. Bonding usually lasts for several years, but if you have a biting habit, you may find you need repairs sooner than usual.
Spaces between your front teeth are always a reason to see your dentist to discuss treatment options. Teeth bonding for gaps may be a suitable treatment for you, and if not, you should be open to orthodontia or a similar, more comprehensive treatment method.