Do you have gap teeth and wonder why that’s the case? Are you looking to fix your appearance and want to know what your options are and the process for how that would happen?
Hi, I’m Dr. Brett Langston. I’m a prosthodontist and the director of Dental Implant and Aesthetic Specialist here in Brookhaven, Georgia.
What Causes a Gap in Your Teeth?
A gap in your smile or the appearance of lots of space in your smile is basically caused for one of two reasons. Either you have correctly sized teeth, but they’re just not in the right locations. They’ve moved around and you see those spaces or you have small teeth, which gives the appearance of lots of extra space in your mouth or you have small teeth, which gives the appearance of lots of extra space in your mouth. These are two kinds of separate reasons why and we treat them different.
How Can a Gap in Your Teeth Be Fixed?
So if you have regular-sized teeth, but they’re just space and they’re not in the right location, we have two options to fix that. One is orthodontics which is basically moving the teeth into the right location. And we can do this one of two ways. There’s conventional orthodontics which is where generally you have an orthodontist bracket and band the teeth.
Metal the railroad tracks, where they put wires on there. And a lot of times it’s really good when you have some pretty significant spaces and we need to move the teeth. A lot of the teeth move around a lot to kind of get them lined up perfectly.
The other option is something you probably heard of, either called Invisalign or sure smile or clear braces or something along those lines. That’s something we offer in our office. And basically what that is, is it’s a series of invisible trays or aligners that you wear for two weeks at a time to help kind of slowly move those teeth into position. If you’re wondering about that process, it’s a really cool thing we do. We do it a lot.
Issues with Orthodontic Health as We Age
The majority of the time as we age, people tend to notice that their bottom front teeth will start to fold in and creep in, in a kind of overlapping. And while that’s an aesthetic concern, it can also be a functional concern because as your teeth shift and move, now they’re hitting a kind of off angle. And we see a lot of chipping. We see a lot of braking, a lot of fractures on those bottom front teeth, and the backsides of the top front teeth as well.
Benefits of Invisalign
The Invisalign process or sure smile process is a great way to kind of slowly upright those teeth and move them back in the right position so you’re functionally protecting the teeth. It also gives you an aesthetic appeal of everything lined up correctly, with no spaces. So the way that we do Invisalign in our practice, is you come in for an evaluation. It’s basically a records appointment. You’ll sit down, we’ll do pictures, we’ll do radiographs, we’ll do intraoral scans.
So the way that we do Invisalign in our practice, is you come in for an evaluation. It’s basically a records appointment. You’ll sit down, we’ll do pictures, we’ll do radiographs, we’ll do intraoral scans.
And then basically I sit down with an orthodontist and we plan out your whole case from start to finish. We’ll have you come back. We’ll sit down. We’ll actually put your teeth on the big screen. And I’ll show you what we’ve planned out as far as how many trades it will take, how long it will take. And you can actually see your teeth move into the position we design. It’s a really cool thing, and it helps you kind of envision where we’re going with the system.
How Many Hours a Day Do You Need to Wear the Invisalign?
So the Invisalign basically, these are clear trays that you put in and you wear them pretty much 23 hours a day. The only time you take them out is when you’re eating or brushing your teeth. But the advantage of these is it’s a slow process that puts pressure on its control pressure that moves those teeth and gets some alignment where we want. Long story short, whether you do conventional braces or clear braces, the goal is to kind of shift those teeth slowly and move them into place so that when we’re done with treatment, everything is lined up and everything is perfect.
Night Time Retainers
And regardless of what type of orthodontics you do, you definitely need to have a nighttime retainer made. And that’s going to prevent those teeth from moving and kind of shifting back because the body is very stubborn. It wants to put teeth right back where you left them. And so if you don’t have something to retain those teeth, they’re gonna shift back. And I think a lot of us see that when we had orthodontics in middle school or high school and now we’re in our 30s, 40s, and 50s and those teeth have shifted and moved right back.
So it’s a great option. We have to close that gap. The other option we have if you have regular teeth. But there’s just the spaces in between them. They’re not in the right spot.
Crown and Bridge Method
It’s fixed, which basically means we do Crown and bridge work to give the appearance of the teeth being in the right place. This is a great option when you don’t want to do orthodontics because orthodontics unfortunately takes time. Most orthodontic cases take between 16 to 24 months. So you’re looking at it a year and a half to two years to really slowly move those teeth into place. So if you’re unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, whether it’s shape or size, or location.
Doing crowns and bridges. We can actually camouflage that and give the appearance of all the teeth in the right places without any gaps. So orthodontics you may be thinking, Well, I’m not a middle schooler. I can’t do orthodontics but that’s totally not true. A majority of our patients are actually in that 50, 60, 70 age range, and they’re just noticing that, usually it’s the bottom front teeth, are starting to get a little crowded, starting to get a little bit unaesthetic. And so that’s a great time. Generally, we can get those teeth back in line. Like I said in about twelve to 18 months, it’s not as simple as just upriding these bottom front teeth. A lot of times you have to look at the whole mouth and make sure. We might have to adjust the top teeth some to make room for everything. So again, come in, see us.
We’ll do a work up and we got to sit down with you and evaluate if it’s right for you. So the other reason that you might have a gap tooth smile is if you have just small teeth, whether that can be from just the anatomy of small alternate eruption to a gummy smile. These are all things that can cause the appearance of lots of extra space in the mouth. You can do orthodontics but if the teeth are too small. It’s not going to be the end result that you want, because just bringing them together is gonna stop that. It’s not gonna be an aesthetic look. So in order to address that, we usually need to do something, whether it’s veneers or crowns, that we can cover those teeth up and give the size and the appearance that we’re looking for.
Sometimes we do have to work with our periodontal colleagues on that because if the tissues are in the way, sometimes we need to modify the tissue and bones so we can kind of create a good backdrop for the right sized teeth. These are all great cases we love doing. The results are always phenomenal, but it does take a lot of planning, and so it’s something we want to come in and sit down with you.
We would do a customized wax up so we can kind of get a vision of where our end goal is because it’s a big change to go from small teeth with lots of space to a mouthful of teeth. And we want to make sure we do it right for you. Altered eruption is when the teeth don’t come all the way out into the mouth. So basically you’re left with shorter teeth, the appearance of shorter teeth, because maybe two-thirds of the tooth is visible, but a third of the tooth is behind the gum line.
And so basically, you’ve got the right sized teeth, but we just can’t see them. So at that point, a periodontal or gum surgery would be great to remove that excess tissue and expose the natural teeth that are there.
If You have Missing Teeth
So if your gap tooth smile is because you’re missing teeth. That’s a whole other ballgame. And we’ve got lots of options for that. So if any of the topics I discussed in this video appeal to you or you have more questions. Like, What’s a dental veneer, what’s a dental Crown? Click on one of these videos, and we’ll walk you through it. So until next time, I’m Dr. Brett Langston, helping you watch your mouth.