As a child, you probably heard the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. In the story, a small girl tries chairs that are too big and too small, porridge that is too hot and too cold, and beds that are too hard and too soft before finding a chair, porridge, and bed that are just right. The space between your teeth is similar to the items Goldilocks encounters—it can be too much, too little, or just right. Here is how the wrong amount of space can affect your teeth and overall dental health.
Not Enough Space Between Teeth
Also known as crowding, having not enough space between your teeth often causes them to look crooked, which is probably the main reason people think about getting braces. But having crooked teeth is only one of the issues caused by crowding.
When teeth are too close together, it is very difficult to properly clean in between them. Even dental floss and rinses may not be able to reach certain parts of your teeth if they are crowded together. This inability to clean off leftover food and drink particles causes plaque to form, which can eventually lead to gingivitis or cavities. Having bacteria trapped between teeth can also lead to having bad breath.
Crowded teeth are never in their proper places, so they do not align with the teeth above or below them. This misalignment can make your teeth wear unevenly and can make it hard or painful to bite down or chew. Food that is not chewed thoroughly is harder to digest.
Too Much Space Between Teeth
The most noticeable gap is one that occurs between the front two teeth, this is called a diastema, but gaps can occur anywhere in your mouth. Baby teeth that are spaced out can actually be a good thing, because that means there is enough room in the upper and lowers jaws for the larger adult teeth coming in later. However, large gaps between adult teeth can be an issue.
Space between teeth is often caused by the jaw being larger than necessary, teeth being too small, or teeth that are missing. Prolonged thumb-sucking can also create gaps between the upper front teeth over time. Just like crowding, having too much space between your teeth can also cause gingivitis, just in a different way. Extra space leaves an area for food to become lodged. Having more gum exposed between teeth leaves it open to more bacteria instead of it being protected by teeth. These bacteria can case tooth decay and eventually cavities.
How to Fix the Problem
Fortunately, both too much and too little space between teeth can be fixed. During an initial exam, your orthodontist will be able to determine what caused the crowding or gaps to occur and will provide you with treatment options such as an appliance, braces, or Invisalign.
For more information about getting teeth that are just right, call Charleston Orthodontic Specialists at (843) 4-BRACES.