Teeth spacing is an incredibly common dental condition among adults, one that’s typically harmless and easily treatable. Generally, it has very few side effects, but can occasionally cause food traps and issues maintaining good oral hygiene. Medical reasons aside, many adults seek corrective treatment for the sake of feeling more comfortable with their smile.
The good news for anyone seeking a smile makeover is that there’s a whole spectrum of treatment options, many that are both efficient and affordable. If you’re considering correcting your spacing issue, it’s simply a matter of choosing the method that best fits your timeline, budget, and expectations. Read on for an overview of what teeth spacing is, what causes it, and the best treatments for correcting it in adulthood.
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What is Teeth Spacing?
Teeth spacing is a dental condition characterized by gaps between several teeth. It can occur anywhere in the upper or lower dental arches, and can be accompanied by other types of misalignments such as overjet or overbite. However, most of the time teeth spacing is a fairly simple and straightforward dental concern.
Dentists do not have a standard gap measurement to diagnose teeth spacing. Instead, anywhere a visible space between two or more teeth appears, it’s deemed present. Generally, the wider a person’s tooth gaps are, the more severe the case is considered.
What Causes Teeth Spacing?
Most often, teeth spacing is caused by a disparity between jaw size and tooth size, which draws teeth away from each other. Other times, excessive gum tissue between teeth can prevent them from coming together. In adults with gum disease, the teeth may also shift and become improperly spaced over time, due to loss of bone that supports the teeth.
Some cases are caused by smaller than normal teeth (called microdontia) or naturally absent teeth (hypodontia). Both of these conditions are usually hereditary, but teeth spacing has habitual causes too. Thumb sucking as a child can put pressure on the front teeth and lead to improper tooth positioning that lasts into adulthood, as can tongue thrust, a swallowing reflex that repeatedly pushes the tongue against the front teeth.
Is It a Medical Issue?
Most cases of teeth spacing are mild enough that they don’t present any serious medical risks, classifying it as mainly a cosmetic concern.
That said, certain cases can make it difficult to chew food and clean the affected teeth. Down the road, this can lead to tooth and gum decay and disease. More serious cases of teeth spacing can also affect a person’s speech.
Some rare spacing issues can be the result of a jaw misalignment like overbite or overjet. These cases are more severe in nature and may come with side effects like jaw pain, headaches, and enamel breakdown. If your spacing is accompanied by other jaw conditions, you may need to take additional treatment measures to achieve the transformative results you want.
But don’t let that scare you, because most cases of teeth spacing are minor and can be effectively corrected by several different treatment options. If your spacing issues are causing discomfort while chewing or brushing, or if you’re just not feeling fully confident in your smile, read on to discover some of the best treatment options dental technology has to offer. If you decide to go with one, you’ll be on the road to closing those gaps soon!
Top 5 Ways to Correct Teeth Spacing in Adults
Even as an adult, there are plenty of options to treat your teeth spacing, ones that can fit a variety of timelines, budgets, and unique dental circumstances. Peruse this list and you’ll likely find a treatment that can work for your situation. But be sure to visit a dentist to get an analysis of your condition and a professional opinion.
Without further ado, here are the four best treatment options for teeth spacing:
Braces are incredibly effective at correcting teeth spacing, even when it’s caused or accompanied by a more complex issue such as overjet. In addition to dental correction, braces can also achieve a degree of skeletal realignment when paired with elastics and other specialized appliances. The main downside of braces is their visibility, since most adults favor treatment options that are less conspicuous.
If your excess spacing is caused by an underlying bite issue, braces are an excellent treatment option, often working more quickly than other correction methods. That said, treatment with braces can be pretty pricey, generally ranging between $3,000-$7,000. If your spacing is not accompanied by any other complications, it may be worth considering one of the other less invasive (and less expensive) treatment options on this list.
Thinking about getting braces? Check out our guide to treating teeth spacing with braces, which covers different types of braces, costs and other important considerations in greater detail.
Known for having pioneered the world’s first clear, removable teeth aligners, Invisalign is another viable treatment option for correcting teeth spacing in adults. If your spacing is accompanied by overjet or some other bite issue, Invisalign can be paired with additional dental appliances to help correct it, just like traditional braces. However, unlike braces, Invisalign can be provided by a standard dentist (rather than an orthodontist), so there’s a good chance your treatment can be administered at the same place you go to get your teeth cleaned.
Of course, the most notable differences between these treatment methods is that Invisalign is 1) removable, and 2) much more discreet than traditional braces. That said, Invisalign clear aligner trays are able to shift your teeth about equally as quickly as braces, and for approximately the same price (between $3,500-$8,000).
Considering Invisalign? Read our guide to treating teeth spacing with Invisalign, which covers options, costs and other important considerations in greater detail.
3) Home Teeth Aligners
While Invisalign remains the best-known option for removable teeth aligners, there are many others available today. In the past few years, a number of online companies like Smile Direct Club have entered the industry to provide a more affordable option for adults seeking to straighten their teeth and correct spacing issues from home.
Similar to the Invisalign treatment process, you’ll receive a set of clear, removable aligners customized to your teeth by a dental professional — but unlike Invisalign, your care will be handled entirely remotely and not require any trips to the dentist’s office.
Home alignment products are significantly more affordable than braces or Invisalign, with an average cost of $1,800-$2,000. All in all, unless your teeth spacing is the result of severe bite misalignment, home teeth alignment is most likely a viable option for you.
To learn more, we encourage you to read our review of the top 5 home teeth aligners.
Interested in learning more about at-home teeth aligners? Visit our guide to treating teeth spacing with at-home aligners, which covers options, costs and other important considerations in greater detail.
A popular alternative to dental realignment, veneers are thin but sturdy pieces of porcelain that bond to your teeth in order to transform your smile instantaneously.
Truth be told, veneers have about as many major upsides as they do downsides for correcting teeth spacing. On the positive side, veneers offer the possibility of immediate gratification and cause much less discomfort than physically shifting your teeth. However, they are not a permanent solution, as they do not actually correct the underlying spacing issue.
Depending on the type you choose, veneers last anywhere from 7-20 years (after which they need to be replaced), and cost between $500-$2,000 per tooth. If you’re seeking a way to enhance the appearance of your smile as quickly as possible, veneers may be worth considering.
Intrigued by veneers? Checkout out our guide to veneers, which covers the pros and cons of this treatment option in much greater depth.
5) Dental Bonding
Bonding is very quick and affordable option for treating minor teeth spacing or chipping. Using a substance very similar to that used for a filling, your dentist can build up your teeth and successfully close any minor gaps between them.
The procedure is painless and one of the least expensive options for minor spacing. Furthermore, dental bonding can be completed in one dental visit, eliminating the need for multiple appointments.
Of course, every treatment comes with a downside. The most obvious downside to dental bonding is that it is not a permanent solution and bonding is much more prone to staining and damage than pricier options like veneers.
Want to learn more about dental bonding? Check out out our guide to bonding, which covers the procedure and its pros and cons in more detail.
Even though teeth spacing is rarely a serious medical concern, and can even go without treatment, it may still cause discomfort and frustration or hamper your confidence. But thanks to advances in dental technology, you have an array of diverse treatment options, ones that are effective, inconspicuous, and won’t put a large dent in your finances.
If you’re worried about the severity of your spacing or think that it might stem from a more severe issue, schedule an appointment with your dentist to gain a better understanding of your condition. And if any of the treatments listed here caught your attention, research them further and evaluate how they might fit with your circumstances and expectations. Even if your case is minor and you decide to stick with the spaces, your smile will still be as charming as ever!