A diastema is a space (gap) between two teeth, most often noticeable between the two front teeth. This condition usually occurs when there is a disproportionate relationship between the jaw and the size of the teeth, but can also be caused by alignment problems, protruding teeth, or over-sized tissue.
Who Experiences Diastemas?
A diastema occurs to many different types of mammals (especially herbivores), but only humans can seek dental care to correct the problem. In animals such as sheep, rodents and beavers, this benefits them substantially by allowing for food to be moved to the cheek so that food consumption can continue without being slowed down.
In some cultures past and present, particularly in Africa, a diastema is considered to be a sign of attractiveness and fertility, and is associated with seductiveness. Some people have even had gaps created through cosmetic surgery. In France they are called lucky teeth, and in Australia, children with a diastema are considered to be able to predict future wealth.
Choosing to Correct Diastemas
Many individuals decide to opt out of having a cosmetic dental procedure to fix a diastema. Maybe you don’t feel like wearing braces for a couple of years, or maybe you are happy with your smile just the way it is. It’s considered a part of who you are. With the entire perfect smile” advertising today, Hollywood celebrities and regular people have become self-conscious of the “gap” between their teeth. And everyone wants that Hollywood perfect smile with straight, white teeth.
However, many others believe the diastema adds authenticity and originality. As Kirsten Dunce famously said about her diastema, “It gives me character and character is sexy.” Other celebrities like David Letterman, Madonna, Seal, Michael Strahan and Lauren Hutton, to name a few well known celebrities, who have totally embraced the gaps between their two front teeth and believe the diastema has benefitted their individual careers. They feel it makes them unique and memorable.
Procedures to Correct Diastemas
If you’re not famous but have a diastema that you’d rather not display when you smile, you can fix your diastema relatively painlessly. Perhaps the most often sought solution is to have an orthodontic procedure to move your teeth together using braces or the new “clear” Invisalign® tooth straightening procedure. These can be extremely effective, especially for those with larger gaps. The most appealing feature of Invisalign is they are invisible and removable for eating, brushing and flossing.
Another popular option is having porcelain veneers applied. Similar to artificial fingernails, veneers are thin layers of material especially customized to close the gap between the teeth. They are slightly wider than the natural tooth and bonded directly to the tooth surface to close the space. This procedure works well when the diastema is smaller in width. The cost of porcelain veneers vary from $300 per tooth to $1,300 per tooth.
The last option and perhaps most appealing is dental bonding. This procedure works well for closing smaller spaces. Bonding material, which is a tooth colored composite resin designed to match the color of your teeth and is sculpted in a freehand manner around the teeth to close the gap. The average cost for dental bonding is between $200 and $600 per tooth. With proper care, bonding last ten years and longer.