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Why Do I Have Gaps Between My Teeth?

If you have gaps between your teeth, you’re in good company. Plenty of people have diastema, the technical term for a gap between your teeth. At Dental Studios in Summit and Westfield, New Jersey, many of our patients with this condition ask our experienced dentists why the gaps form.

Different causes can lead to diastema, and how the gaps appear differs based on the root cause. While many patients worry most about the appearance of gaps, this common dental condition also can affect your oral health in some cases.

To answer your questions and make you aware of different treatment options, we’ve created this guide with everything you need to know about gaps between your teeth.

What causes gaps between teeth?

Gaps between teeth can occur anywhere in your mouth, but the most common location is between the upper front teeth. One or more factors can trigger gaps. Here are some of the most frequent causes:

Bad habits

Oral habits — especially ones you had as a child — can cause you to develop gaps between your teeth. These include sucking your thumb or pacifier past age 4. Tongue thrusting, a habit of pushing your tongue between your upper and lower teeth when you swallow, causes alignment issues, including a space between your front teeth.

Lip frenulum

The thin tissue that connects your upper gums and lips is called the lip frenulum. In some people, this piece of tissue grows too large, pushing your front teeth apart and creating a gap between your teeth.


The size of your teeth and jaw affect the way your teeth align. If, like many people, your jaw size and the size of your teeth don’t quite match, you can end up with misalignment, which can lead to overcrowding, crooked teeth, and spaces between teeth.

Gum disease

If you develop gaps between your teeth as an adult, periodontal (gum) disease could be the cause. At least 85% of Americans over 35 have this condition. When it’s advanced, this chronic infection causes your jawbone to erode, which can alter your bite, cause your teeth to shift, and lead to tooth loss.

Missing teeth

If you’re missing teeth, your other teeth may shift. This can lead to diastema. Missing teeth also increase your risk of other dental issues, so be sure to talk to your dentist about it.

Are gaps between my teeth bad for my oral health?

Not necessarily. Some gaps simply create an aesthetic difference. But others, especially those caused by dental problems, can increase your risk of oral health issues down the line, including:

  • Misaligned bite from continued dental shifting
  • Dental chips and cracks
  • Higher risk of oral infection

In some cases, when gaps lead to oral infection, this bacteria can spread through your bloodstream and attack your whole system, putting you at greater risk of heart disease and other serious conditions.

How are gaps between teeth treated?

At Dental Studios, our dentists offer different solutions to address diastema for patients concerned about the appearance of their smile or who are at risk of developing oral health problems.

The right treatment for your tooth gap(s) depends on several factors, including the gap location, your overall dental health, the condition of your gums, and your personal preference. Your dentist recommends the best treatment for your situation, which may include:

  • Dental veneers
  • Dental crowns
  • Orthodontic alignment
  • Bridges
  • Implants
  • Cosmetic dentistry, including dental bonding

If gum disease is the cause of your diastema, it’s important to get treatment. Our team offers periodontal therapy to help you get your gum disease under control.

If the gap between your teeth is caused by your lip frenulum and you wish to correct it, you may need a simple oral surgery procedure called a frenectomy. During this procedure, your surgeon removes or loosens the frenulum, and treatment with a dental aligner follows to correct the spacing.

Are you interested in learning more about the gaps and your teeth and how we can treat them? Schedule a consultation by calling the Dental Studios office in either Summit or Westfield, New Jersey, or by using our online appointment tool.

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What Our
patients say
  • I had an excellent experience with this practice! The dentist was very kind and listened attentively to my concerns. Everything went great and they checked on me a few hours after I got home. Great doctor and caring staff!

    by Damian L. on 8/29/21