Why you should never ignore gaps in teeth
While Madonna may have made the middle tooth gap famous, gaps in teeth can present a range of problems that can significantly impact your dental health over the long term.
Think of it like this: teeth keep other teeth in place. So when you have a gap between your teeth—perhaps due to a missing tooth—your other teeth that sit beside the gap will slowly drift and tilt into the missing tooth’s place to fill the gap.
Of course, as your teeth move to fill the gap, you may experience cosmetic issues that could negatively impact any teeth-straightening work you’ve had done.
Problems with the gap
However, gaps in teeth are not a purely cosmetic problem, and can have a more profound effect on your overall dental health.
For example, moving teeth can cause changes in your bite. This can cause a few serious problems.
Firstly, food can become stuck between tilting teeth, which can create all kinds of other issues including tooth decay and gum disease.
Secondly, as your bite starts to change you may favour one side of your mouth when chewing. This puts a lot more load on the favoured side of your mouth, and if you have heavily-filled teeth, this can actually cause your teeth to break.
Finally, gaps in teeth may also lead to TMJ-related issues that can cause pain in your jaw joints or even affect muscle control in your jaw movement. It also means that you may lose the bone underneath the tooth, as well.
That’s why loosing one tooth often very quickly results in losing other teeth if left untreated. If you lose multiple teeth, your jaw many change shape and you can get that sunken look, and let’s face it, nobody wants to look old.
Bridging the gap
The good news is that there are several simple procedures available to close gaps in teeth and avoid these problems before they arise.
For example, bridges and dental implants are a good option for closing these gaps so the other teeth don’t move into that area.
If your teeth have already tilted while moving to fill a gap, you may also require some orthodontic work. However, depending on the degree of the tilt, sometimes we can use a bridge the upright the effected tooth or teeth.
When it comes to having one of those procedures, it’s usually a case of the sooner you act the better. In most cases, about three to six months after you’ve had a tooth removed is the ideal time to have a dental implant or a bridge done.
However, it’s never too late to fix a gap in your teeth, and while it’s not ideal, often we can still close a gap up to six or seven years after the tooth was lost.
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