Closing in a tooth gap (diastema) using dental bonding.

This digital smile makeover shows how a dentist can add tooth bonding to teeth, so to change their shape. In this case, by making each tooth a little bit wider, the space in between can be narrowed.

As you'll read below, there are reasons why closing the space more than we've illustrated might place this patient at increased risk for future dental problems.

Case issues and concerns:

  • This person's chief cosmetic complaint is the gap that lies between his two upper left incisors.
  • Dentists use the term "diastema" to refer to the space between two teeth.
  • His other concern is that his two center teeth (upper central incisors) aren't the same length. Ideally, these two teeth should be mirror images of each other.
 
  • A tooth gap between a central and lateral incisor.
    A tooth gap between a central and lateral incisor. A tooth gap between a central and lateral incisor.
  • The closed gap after bonding has been placed.
    The closed gap after bonding has been placed. The closed gap after bonding has been placed.
 

Photo submitted by website visitor.

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Treatment solutions:

1) Closing the gap using bonding. -

Dental bonding could make a good choice for making the changes we've illustrated in our "after" picture. We would, however, like to bring two points to your attention, so to give you an idea of what a dentist deals with when making a decision about what results can be (or should be) achieved.

a) Some contours of a tooth shouldn't be changed with bonding.

Dentists usually close a space between teeth by making each of the teeth framing the gap slightly wider. You may notice, however, that in our "after" picture we still show a hint of a space up by the gum line.

When a dentist places bonding they have a great deal of control over the final shape of those portions of the tooth that lie above the gum line. But the contours of the tooth right where it emerges from the gums cannot be significantly altered or masked. Here's why.

  • Bonding can't just be bulked on a tooth in this region (so to give the illusion of a different shape or alignment) because doing so may create a dental plaque trap (an area that is hard to clean when the patient brushes or flosses).
  • In our "after" simulation this is why you see a small space still remains. We're suggesting that creating contours for the bonding that are easy to clean may result in a small portion of the gap still being left. (This scenario does not always take place but is a possibility that you may need to discuss with your dentist.)

b) Closing a gap may widen the teeth too much.

There's another possible complication with this type of work that may need to be considered. Since the teeth on this person's left side will now be wider than they were before, will this person's smile still look symmetrical and uniform?

Most people we interact with will not pick up on small tooth-width discrepancies. But the patient and dentist both need to consider this possibility before treatment is begun.

2) Making corrections for the shape of other teeth. -

Our "after" picture also illustrates some shape changes for the remainder of this person's upper front teeth. In regard to making them, the biting edge of the patient's center right tooth could probably be brought into alignment just by trimming it with a dental drill. The shape of other aspects of this tooth, as well as others, could be refined and idealized with the addition of dental bonding.

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Input from site visitors.

Gap closed.

I had this type of gap between bottom teeth slightly off to the side. The dentist used tooth bonding, a little on each side, to close it in. It was painless and just took one pretty short visit. Couldn't be happier.

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