When you visit an orthodontist to correct your irregular teeth, it is natural to feel anxious and have many questions. One of the most common questions is, “How long will braces take to correct my teeth gaps?”
Before we answer these questions for you, it is important to understand more about why gaps exist between teeth and the various available treatment options to correct them.
Why do Gaps Exist Between Teeth?
If you have observed a child’s milk teeth, you will notice they are usually spaced out. These gaps, also called spacing between teeth, are common in milk teeth because they consider the larger size of the permanent teeth that erupt when a child is around 6 to 7 years of age. However, when these gaps occur in permanent teeth, they cause worry and must be closed.
One of the most common causes for gaps in teeth is jaw size-tooth size mismatch, i.e., the presence of smaller teeth in a larger jaw. This often occurs when an individual inherits the jaw size from one parent and the tooth size from the other. This situation gives rise to generalized spacing, which means all teeth have spaces between them.
A few other reasons why you may have gaps in between your teeth include the following:
- Missing teeth due to trauma or extraction ;
- Crowding in one part of the jaw may result in spacing on the other side
- Impacted teeth that fail to erupt
- Presence of a thick frenum (muscular attachment of the lip to the gums) prevents tight contact between teeth on either side of it
Different Types of Gaps in India
Depending upon the cause, there are different types of teeth gaps:
This is the most common type of gap in the mouth and occurs between the two upper front teeth. A thick muscular tissue (called a frenum) that connects the upper lip to the gums is the cause of this gap. Orthodontics using braces or clear aligners and correcting the thick frenum can help close the gap permanently.
There are several reasons why your dentist would remove one or more teeth. The most common causes include crowding, spacing, cavities, and the presence of extra teeth. When a tooth is removed, the gap created is called an extraction space.
Jaw size-tooth size mismatch
When one inherits the jaw size from one parent and the tooth size from the other, it results in a jaw and tooth size mismatch causing generalized spacing between teeth.
Odd tooth shape or size:
Some people have one or two teeth that are oddly shaped or smaller than their adjacent teeth. This results in small gaps between the affected tooth and its adjacent one.
Why Should we Close Gaps?
When you have multiple small gaps or gaps between teeth that are not affecting your smile or bite, it is natural to wonder why you should close them.
Well, just like crowded teeth cause dental problems, spacing between teeth can also cause issues like:
- Food lodgement in the gaps
- Cavity formation
- Inflamed gums
- Excessive stress on the teeth adjacent to the gap
- Difficulty in speaking or pronouncing
- Poor smile and facial aesthetics
How Long Do Braces Take to Close Teeth Gaps?
Now coming to the question of how long does it take to close teeth gaps? Using braces and clear aligners, it can take 12 to 24 months to close teeth gaps, depending upon the malocclusion’s severity and size.
Large extraction spaces in a well-aligned mouth usually require replacement using a bridge or implant. When there are oddly shaped teeth causing a tooth gap, veneers or crowns are a great way to cover this space. All these prosthetic treatments take around 7-10 days to cover your gap.
However, orthodontics is the best way to correct them, only when there are generalized spaces, midline diastema or extraction spaces in the poorly aligned dentition. While orthodontics takes longer to fill teeth gaps, it is the most natural way to do so. Quick fixes like crowns and bridges are artificial and may cause problems like sensitivity or pain and need to be replaced after a few years.
Closing small gaps like midline diastemas takes around three to four months, while orthodontic treatment for generalized spaces usually takes longer.
Can Extraction Gaps Be Closed Using Braces?
If you think all extraction gaps can be closed using braces, here’s what you need to know! Not all extractions spaces can be corrected with braces. Regardless of how you lost your tooth, it must be immediately replaced with a prosthetic tooth before adjacent teeth tilt into this space.
When you have an extraction space that you would like to close with braces, the orthodontist will thoroughly evaluate your teeth and their alignment to determine the most suitable treatment plan.
Why Do Gaps Appear in Front Teeth After Braces Treatment?
In many individuals, gaps appear between the two upper front teeth even after orthodontic correction. This happens when the cause of the gap, a thick lingual frenum, is not removed before orthodontic treatment.
It is important to determine the cause of tooth gaps and address them to avoid treatment failure, especially in cases of midline diastema. Most orthodontists also place a thick metallic retainer behind the upper two front teeth to prevent a relapse after treatment completion.
Closing Premolar Gaps
People with crowded teeth usually require extraction of one, two, three, or all four first or second premolars to create space for alignment. However, it is natural to wonder how your orthodontist will close the gaps they have created with extraction. The reason for premolar extraction is to create space for moving the crowded teeth into proper alignment.
Since we have two premolars on each side and four in each jaw, removing two or four of them does not affect our bite, facial profile, or jaw alignment. Premolar extraction is a very commonly used technique in orthodontic treatments.
Power chains are tiny elastics fixed on braces to speed up gap closure, especially in extraction spaces when premolars removal is a part of treatment. These elastics are also called o-rings due to their shape. Though regular wires used in braces can’t close teeth gaps, these o-rings do the job quicker.
Closing Teeth Gaps Without Braces
Though braces are the most natural and best way to close teeth gaps, other options include:
- Clear aligners
While crowns, veneers, and composites require some amount of teeth shaping, clear aligners are the most popular option for closing teeth gaps. Similar to braces in their working, clear aligners are transparent plastic trays which, when worn on teeth, move them and close the gaps.
Spacing between teeth is just as common as crowding and requires orthodontic treatment. With the latest advances in orthodontics, clear aligners are equally effective in closing gaps. Clear aligners are the most convenient and comfortable way of closing teeth gaps in India.