You might love your tooth gap and the personality it gives your smile. Or maybe you’ve been longing to fix it for years. If you aren’t in love with your spacing, it might be time to close that gap — and at-home aligners are one of the most affordable and convenient ways to do it.
Keep scrolling to find the types of tooth gaps that at-home aligners can treat, an overview of the most effective home aligners for gaps, and a few alternatives if you don’t see an option that will work for you.
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What Are Tooth Gaps?
Tooth gaps, or diastemas, are visible spaces between two or more teeth, most often between the two front incisors (midline diastema). Although “diastema” sounds somewhat serious, these gaps are usually harmless. In fact, people in some parts of the world consider teeth gaps the standard for a beautiful smile. That said, if your tooth gap bothers you for any reason, correcting it is incredibly easy, regardless of your age.
Most cases of diastema don’t come with symptoms, but if your gaps stem from gum disease, however, you may experience gum irritation, redness, or swelling.
Otherwise, you can leave your gaps untreated without affecting your oral health. The primary reason people correct them with orthodontic treatment is because they don’t like how the gaps look.
What Causes Tooth Gaps?
Some of the most common causes are genetic, like undersized teeth, oversized gums, or missing teeth. Other cases come from an oversized labial frenum — the thin piece of tissue connecting your upper lip to your top gums. Dental drifting can also cause gaps, plus it’s a sign of advanced gum disease and often accompanied by gum irritation, redness, and swelling.
Habits can play a role in forming gaps too. Some children reflexively press their tongues against the roof of their mouths when they swallow, and that consistent pressure can form gaps. Childhood thumb sucking, lip sucking, and tongue thrusting can also contribute.
How Do At-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 of making regular trips to the dentist. But what does the process of home teeth alignment actually entail?
To get the ball rolling, you’ll usually take impressions of your teeth using a kit from your provider (though some offer in-person scans as well). Then, you’ll mail the impressions back to them for their team of dentists to review. If the dentist in charge of your case determines that home aligners aren’t the right fit for you, the company will often refund you for the cost of the kit — usually around $49–$99.
After this step, your provider will use your impressions to design a series of custom aligners, and you should receive them in about one month. From there, it’s up to you to wear your aligners for 22+ hours each day — or ten hours if you choose a nighttime-only plan — keep up with your oral hygiene routine, and progress through the series of aligners as directed.
Can Home Aligners Fix Tooth Gaps?
Yes, home aligners are extremely effective for most tooth gaps. These discreet aligners specialize in mild-to-moderate crowding and spacing in the front six teeth, which is exactly where most diastemas occur. But it also depends on the cause of the gap.
Simple diastemas caused by genetics or childhood habits are usually confined to the teeth themselves, without complications elsewhere in the mouth or jaw, and are therefore quite responsive to home aligners.
However, tooth gaps can also come from periodontal disease (gum disease). In patients with gum disease, the bone holding teeth in place can deteriorate from a heavy buildup of plaque, loosening and shifting the teeth, which can form gaps. In these cases, you’d need to address the gum disease before straightening your teeth.
If your midline diastema stems from an oversized labial frenum, it’s typically not a problem. But occasionally, the frenum will continue growing between the teeth, in which case you’d probably need to get it fixed 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, so you might need to consider a more robust treatment option, like braces or Invisalign. But again, the most tooth gap cases are minor and perfectly suitable for home aligner treatment.
The Best At-Home Aligners for Tooth Gap
Most home aligner systems promise results for spacing and crowding issues, but they’re far from identical. You should evaluate multiple options to determine which ones 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 most of the work for you. Here are a few of the best home aligners for treating tooth gap we could find:
Byte’s claim to fame is their ability to deliver impressive results faster than most of the competition — their average treatment plan length is just 4–5 months. Plus, they put a lifetime guarantee on your smile, and for those who’d prefer to straighten their teeth at night, they offer “At-Night” aligners designed with premium materials to withstand nighttime teeth grinding.
- Byte’s average treatment plan length is just 4–5 months.
- Byte includes their high-frequency vibration device, the HyperByte, in the cost of your aligner bundle. When used properly, the HyperByte can help provide a more comfortable aligner fit and faster dental shifts for some customers.
- The Byte-For-Life guarantee provides new aligners if your teeth ever shift, as long as you continue purchasing and wearing their retainers as directed.
- Their financing plans don’t require a credit check, so everyone qualifies.
- Byte-At-Night only requires ten hours of continuous wear per day instead of the usual 22.
- Byte includes one set of aftercare retainers for free.
- Byte doesn’t currently have any retail locations, so you’ll need to order an impression kit to get started.
- Byte’s $1,999 price tag is just average for the industry.
Most home aligners can correct mild-to-moderate spacing issues, and Byte is no exception. That said, you’ll still need to submit impressions of your teeth so their team can confirm your candidacy and design your custom treatment plan.
Want to see what real Byte customers have to say? Check out these authentic reviews from customers who used Byte to correct tooth gaps.
Candid takes a unique approach to tooth alignment by blending elements of in-person and at-home care. This hybrid treatment model starts with a dental visit for an examination and digital scan. After that, you’ll complete regular check-ins using the CandidApp and CandidMonitoring kit — no additional office visits required.
- Candid has a network of 300+ dentists, and they’re adding more all the time.
- The local dentist who examined you in-person will collaborate with Candid throughout the entire treatment process. Fully remote teeth alignment services like Byte and SmileDirectClub don’t offer this benefit.
- Since your dentist performs a 3D scan, you get to skip the impression kit.
- CandidMonitoring lets your dentist and Candid’s team evaluate your progress every step of the way, helping your treatment stay on track.
- Candid’s aligners are made from Zendura FLX plastic, so they’re flexible, durable, and powerful.
- Candid treatment averages around $3,500, which is more than fully remote services, closer to what you might pay for Invisalign or ClearCorrect.
- Financing varies between doctors, but isn’t always available.
Just like Byte, a dentist will have to review the condition of your teeth in order to determine your eligibility. However, unlike Byte, Candid makes sure you see this dentist in person, so you’ll get personalized oversight and guidance. This is a great option for people who live near a Candid provider and want to blend traditional and remote treatment.
SmileDirectClub is easily the best-known brand of at-home teeth aligners on the market today. They’ve been straightening teeth since 2014 and served over 1.5 million customers to date. With over 300 SmileShops and a nighttime-only plan, they’re a highly convenient service. Plus, they have a lifetime smile warranty and extensive refund policies.
- SmileDirectClub has over 300 SmileShops and 1,500+ partnering dentists located across the U.S. where you can get a free teeth scan and skip the impression kit.
- Through SmilePay, every customer can receive financing, no credit check required.
- SmileDirectClub’s Nighttime Aligners allow you to complete your treatment by wearing aligners for just ten hours per day.
- Their Lifetime Smile Guarantee will provide new aligners if your teeth shift out of place in the future, as long as you purchase two sets of retainers every year and wear them as directed.
- SmileDirectClub issues full refunds within the first 30 days of treatment and partial refunds after that.
- SmileDirectClub has a mixed track record of customer service quality.
- They used to have a manufacturing partnership with Align Technology (makers of Invisalign) but now they produce their aligners in-house.
- SmileDirectClub charges an additional $99 fee for retainers after treatment.
Just like Byte and Candid, SmileDirectClub can correct teeth spacing. But again, they’ll need to examine your teeth before making any promises!
Want to see what real SmileDirectClub customers have to say? Check out these authentic reviews from customers who used SmileDirectClub to correct tooth gaps.
What Are My Other Options?
Home aligners might be the ideal choice for your unique circumstances, but they’re not the right solution for everyone, and it’s wise to familiarize yourself with your alternatives. This way, if you’re not a candidate for home aligners, or you simply like another treatment better, you’ll know the pros and cons of each option.
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 same daily discipline as aligners. Plus, even though tooth gaps rarely require anything more than traditional braces, dentists have the option of including various attachments (like elastics) if you also have bite issues. And if you’re hesitant about getting metal brackets and wires, there are a few more discreet options too, like clear braces, or lingual braces that go behind your teeth.
The typical treatment time for braces is around 16–18 months, but minor gaps usually take a lot less time to correct. Some people can even finish treatment in around six months, depending on the severity of the gap. The downsides are that braces’ average cost is $3,000–$8,000, and they’re a lot more noticeable than clear aligners.
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 entirely in person by a dentist, not at home. This means the dentist can modify your clear aligners with elastics or Invisalign’s “Smartforce” attachments to induce more nuanced tooth movements.
Your dentist can also address any underlying issues that may affect your treatment. That said, this extra facetime comes at a cost. Invisalign is often slightly more expensive than traditional braces and requires just as many scheduled trips to the dentist.
If you’re set on in-office clear aligner treatment, but aren’t sold on Invisalign, look into ClearCorrect, one of their biggest competitors. Their process is almost identical to Invisalign — your dentist or orthodontist will evaluate your condition, then administer them and evaluate your progress during regular office visits.
These aligners can also incorporate attachments to treat severe cases and bite misalignments. ClearCorrect isn’t as experienced or prolific as Invisalign, but they charge dentists less for lab fees and have multiple plans — including one where you pay per aligner — so your treatment might be more affordable.
Another one of Invisalign’s oldest competitors, SureSmile launched its clear aligners in 2007. It can treat the same scope of misalignments as Invisalign, and the company says that their patients are less likely to need refinements after treatment. Despite this, they boast lower prices and, since they don’t have a specific mandatory scanner, providers can save money and pass those savings on to you.
3M Clarity Aligners
3M — the company behind Scotch Tape and Post-Its — creates clear aligners with incredible teeth-moving power thanks to their unique attachment placement. Clarity Aligners are only available to orthodontists, who can use two different proprietary materials to deliver a treatment highly customized to your condition. Since 3M also makes Clarity Clear Braces, orthodontists can also design a combination treatment that uses them simultaneously with aligners.
These are thin, sturdy porcelain tabs that a dentist can affix to the front of your teeth, providing an instant smile makeover. 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’ average lifespan is 7–20 years, and the average cost is $500–2,500 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.
These removable appliances clip onto your teeth, hiding your gaps, along with stains, cracks, chips, missing teeth, and other cosmetic issues. Companies like Shiny Smile and Removable Veneers USA customize their veneers using molds of your teeth, so they’re a perfect match. They often come in different shades and models — some for everyday use and others for occasional wear.
Snap-on veneers are much more affordable than traditional veneers and many orthodontic treatments, but they’re also not permanent, and they can be slightly uncomfortable to wear. That said, they’re a solid choice for people seeking a quick and inexpensive solution. Check out our guide to the five best snap-on veneers to learn more.
Tooth gaps are incredibly common in adults and typically harmless. Plus, there are a ton of treatment options, even if that means no treatment at all! That said, if you’re seeking a discreet, affordable, convenient solution, home aligners might be the route for you.
What’s most important is that you make the best choice for your goals, timeline, and finances. Consider the pros and cons, consult your dentist, and thoroughly 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a diastema?
This somewhat-scary-sounding word is just the medical term for spacing between two teeth. However, most cases are harmless. You only need to worry if they bother you or if they are causing crowding in other teeth.
Is it problematic to have a tooth gap?
Only if it is a problem for you. If you like the look, just check with a dentist or orthodontist to make sure that it isn’t complicating your oral health.
Why did I develop a tooth gap as an adult?
There are two main reasons adults develop gaps: periodontal disease and not wearing retainers after orthodontic treatment. The first requires intervention from your dentist plus orthodontic treatment. The second is easier — just get the necessary orthodontic treatment, then keep up with retainers.
Are braces the best option for closing a gap?
If the gap is just one part of a larger misalignment, they might be. Most adults will do better with at-home or in-office clear aligners, though.
How long do aligners take to correct a tooth gap?
That depends on many factors, including whether other teeth need to be moved, how well your body responds to aligners, and the size of the gap.
Do aligners hurt?
Aligners place pressure on the teeth, and this pressure can cause soreness, especially when biting down. However, aligners don’t irritate the soft tissues of the mouth, making them a better option than braces for some people.
How often will I need to change my aligners?
Your plan will specify how long to wear each aligner set, but most people change them every 1–2 weeks.
Am I better off with Invisalign over braces?
Both are great options for closing a tooth gap. The right choice for you depends on your preferences.
Will I need to wear a retainer after closing my gap?
If you want to keep it closed, yes. Retainers are an essential part of treatment.
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