Tooth gap (or diastema) is an incredibly common condition characterized by a space between two or more teeth. It can occur anywhere in the dental arches, but appears most commonly between the upper central incisors, called a midline diastema. Widespread among adults and children alike, tooth gaps vary in severity and appearance, but a majority of cases cause little to no medical complications. Regardless, many adults opt to correct their tooth gaps, especially if it’s keeping them from feeling totally comfortable with their smile.
Tooth gaps are usually easily fixed, and there are plenty of treatment options available, perhaps none more recently-popular than home aligner systems. These companies utilize the latest clear aligner technology to deliver impressive, affordable results without any trips to the dentist. Of course, home aligners aren’t the best solution for everyone, and there are a number of treatment paths out there. Keep scrolling and you’ll find the types of tooth gaps that home aligners can treat, an overview of the most effective home aligners for tooth gaps, and a few alternatives if home aligners aren’t the best fit for you.
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How Do Home Teeth Aligners Work?
Home teeth aligners are exactly what they sound like: aligners designed to treat dental concerns from home, without the added cost or hassle involved in traditional orthodontic treatment. But what does the process of home teeth alignment actually entail?
To get the ball rolling, you’ll take impressions of your teeth using the kit your provider sends you (we’ll go over our recommended providers shortly). Then, you’ll mail the impressions back to them for one of their dentists to review. If the dentist in charge of your case determines that home aligners aren’t the right fit for you, the cost of this step (between $49-$99) is fully refundable. Some companies also offer the option of visiting a physical office to get your teeth scanned for free instead of buying a home impression kit.
After this step, your provider will design a series of custom aligners based on your impressions, and send them to you within about one month. From there, it’s up to you to keep up with the treatment plan (wearing your aligners for the required amount of time each day, keeping up with oral hygiene, progressing through the series of aligners as prescribed) to make sure you get the results you were promised!
Are Home Teeth Aligners Effective for Tooth Gaps?
Yes, home aligners are extremely effective for a large majority of tooth gap cases. These discreet aligners specialize in mild to moderate crowding and spacing issues, which is exactly where most diastemas fall.
Tooth gaps have a few potential causes, some more likely than others. Most often, it’s the result of a disharmony between the jaw or gum size and teeth size. Other times, childhood oral habits like thumb-sucking or tongue thrusting push teeth out of position, resulting in irregular spacing. These causes are usually confined to the teeth themselves, without complications elsewhere in the mouth or jaw, and are therefore quite responsive to home aligners.
Tooth gaps can also be caused by periodontal disease (gum disease). In patients with gum disease, the bone holding the teeth in place begins to deteriorate due to a heavy buildup of plaque. As a result, the teeth begin to shift, often causing them to become loose and tooth gaps to form.
Sometimes, however, a midline diastema can be caused by an oversized labial frenum (the tissue that connects your upper lip to the gums). This is not typically a problem, but occasionally, the frenum can continue growing between the teeth, and it may need to be addressed before correcting the gap.
If your tooth gap is accompanied or caused by a jaw alignment issue like overjet or crossbite, it may require more significant tooth and jaw realignments to achieve the results you’re after, so you might need to consider a more robust treatment option.
But again, the vast majority of tooth gap cases are minor and perfectly suitable for home aligner treatment.
With all this in mind, let’s take a quick look at some of the best home alignment services for tooth gap.
What Home Teeth Aligners Can I Choose From?
Most home aligner systems promise results for spacing and crowding issues, but not all home aligners are the same. It’s important to evaluate multiple options to determine which offer the costs, timelines, services, and reliability you want. This might seem like a lot of research (and it is) but don’t worry, we’ve done the bulk of it for you. Here are a few of the best home aligners for treating tooth gap we could find:
Founded in 2018, byte has quickly carved out their unique place in the home alignment market, largely thanks to their co-founder and “Chief Cosmetic Dentist” Dr. Jon Marashi. Dr. Marashi’s claim to fame is his highly personalized approach to crafting smiles on the most famous faces in Hollywood, including Justin Timberlake, Pink, Halsey, and countless others.
Beyond their founder’s vast pool of celebrity endorsements, byte is also a hugely attractive option for adults seeking to adjust their teeth as quickly and effectively as possible. byte offers faster results than competing companies thanks to their special “HyperByte” device, which vibrates the teeth to allow them to shift more quickly. Using this device, folks are able to complete treatment in as little as 3 months (half the time most competitors claim).
Another major pro: byte is one of the two home aligner companies that ensures your treatment is overseen by an orthodontist rather than a general dentist. Since orthodontists are more specialized in this particular aspect of dentistry, with byte you can be certain that your treatment plan is being designed by someone who has dedicated their life to the art of straightening smiles.
byte’s upfront cost of $1895 (or financing plans starting at $83/mo) is right in-line with other major providers. However, they’re one of the few whose financing options doesn’t require a credit check.
Most home aligners are capable of correcting mild to moderate spacing issues, and byte is no exception. That said, you’ll still need to submit an impression of your teeth to confirm your candidacy (and ultimately design your unique treatment plan).
Candid’s dedication to quality makes them well worth considering for anyone interested in home teeth alignment. Besides byte, Candid is the only other provider that makes sure an orthodontist manages your treatment plan. Orthodontists undergo far more annual trainings and learn more updated orthodontic techniques than general dentists, so with Candid or byte you can trust your treatment will be as innovative and effective as possible.
Another testament to this dedication is the quality of the aligners themselves. Based on our research, Candid partners with ClearCorrect, one of the leading clear aligner manufacturers whose product has been FDA-approved since 2009. All in all, with Candid you can trust you’re getting a top-notch product from qualified folks.
Treatment with Candid sits right around the same price-point as byte at $1,900 upfront (or financing starting at $88/mo), and may be covered in part or full if you have some form of dental insurance. However, if you’re considering financing, Candid requires a credit check, which presents a roadblock for some folks.
Just like with byte, a dentist will have to review the condition of your teeth in order to determine your eligibility. However, unlike byte, Candid has physical office locations in several major U.S. cities where you can go to get your teeth scanned for free. This is a great option for folks who live in proximity to one of Candid’s offices and want to avoid the hassle of taking impressions on their own.
SmileDirectClub is easily the best-known brand of home teeth aligners on the market today. They’ve been straightening teeth since 2014 and served over 650,000 customers to date.
SmileDirectClub utilizes the same basic pricing structure as other major brands ($1,895 up front or financing starting at $85/mo), but they’re the only provider besides byte that does not require a credit check in order to pursue financing. Another perk: like Candid, SmileDirectClub has physical office locations where you can get your teeth scanned for free instead of taking impressions from home. But unlike Candid, SmileDirectClub has over 300 “SmileShops” across the country rather than just a handful in major cities.
All that said, there’s always a trade-off when it comes to working with a company of this size. The quality of their customer service is definitely lacking compared to competitors like byte. If you’re put off by hold times or automated responses that don’t quite answer your questions, working with SmileDirectClub may not be the best fit for you.
Just like the other two providers above, SmileDirectClub is very capable of correcting teeth spacing. But again, they’ll need to examine the condition of your teeth before making any promises!
Need More Information?
Choosing a treatment option is a big, personal decision, so of course you’ll want to gather as much information as possible. If any of the services above caught your eye, take a look at our deeper dive into the home aligner world in this comprehensive review of the top 5 options. There, you’ll find information about the advantages and drawbacks of each provider.
What Are My Other Options?
Home aligners might be the ideal option for your unique circumstances, but they’re not the right choice for everyone, and it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the other treatments available. This way, if it turns out that you’re not a candidate for home aligners, or you simply like another treatment better, you’ll be aware of the pros and cons for each option.
Braces: Braces have many years of impressive results to prove their effectiveness in treating tooth gaps, and they remain a popular option today. They’re sturdy and don’t require the daily discipline that aligners do. Plus, even though tooth gaps rarely require anything more than traditional braces, dentists have the option of including various appliances (like elastics) if your condition is complicated by bite issues. Typical treatment time for braces is around 16-18 months, but this time can be drastically decreased if treatment is only for a minor tooth gap. Some people can even achieve desired results within about six months, depending on the severity of the gap. The major drawbacks of braces are the high cost (typically around $5,000) and high visibility.
Invisalign: Another highly effective tooth gap treatment, Invisalign offers similar results to braces, but without all the metal. The Invisalign system differs from home aligners because it’s administered completely by a dentist, not at home. This means that the dentist can modify your clear aligners with elastics or Invisalign’s “Smartforce” attachments to induce more nuanced tooth movements. Your dentist will also be able to address any underlying issues that may affect your treatment. That said, this extra face-time comes at a cost. Invisalign is often slightly more expensive than traditional braces, and requires just as many scheduled trips to the dentist.
Veneers: These are thin, sturdy porcelain tabs that a dentist can affix to the front of your teeth, providing an instantly new smile. Veneers are a great option for anyone that wants a smile transformation without the discomfort of shifting teeth. The downside is that veneers don’t solve the underlying issue, and they’re not permanent. Despite their sturdiness, veneers need replacement after 7-20 years and cost anywhere between $500-2,000 per tooth. Veneers also require the irreversible process of “prepping” your teeth by shaving down the enamel, which can result in the weakening of your teeth down the line. If you’re looking for immediate results with no tooth movement, veneers could be a good option, but if you want a more permanent solution, another route might be better.
Tooth gaps are incredibly common in adults and, most times, quite harmless. You have a lot of viable options when it comes to treatment, even if that means no treatment at all! That said, if you’re seeking a discreet, affordable, at-home solution, home aligners might be the route for you. There’s almost no risk to get started, as each of the companies referenced here will refund any startup costs if they review your impressions and determine you’re not a candidate.
But let’s not get bogged down with the details, because what’s most important is that you make the choice that’s best for your goals, timeline, and finances. Consider the pros and cons, consult your dentist, and evaluate each option. And remember, if you decide to keep that tooth gap, wear it confidently because it doesn’t make your smile any less brilliant.