Using Invisalign® to close the space between two front teeth.

There are several different methods a dentist can use to close in a gap between two teeth (a "diastema"). One of these involves the use of orthodontic treatment.

Having dental braces may not appeal to some people but that may be because they don't realize how much they've changed. Nowadays there are a number of different techniques and options that can make having orthodontic treatment much less noticeable.

One of the most popular is Invisalign®. This technique involves wearing clear plastic aligners that are both removable and relatively invisible. The digital makeovers on this page show two cases where this system might be used to close the space between two front teeth.

Case issues and concerns:

This smile shows a gap between its two center teeth. Dentists use the term diastema for this type of space.

From a dental-health standpoint, having a gap like this is a non-issue. Neither leaving it nor closing it would be expected to have any impact on the long-term outlook for the health of this person's teeth.

From a standpoint of cosmetic appearance, some people might feel that a diastema detracts from their smile. But this is simply a point of personal preference and nothing else.

This smile may seem familiar to you. It belongs to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

When considering possible treatment options for this smile, it's important to note that, overall, the color and shape of the teeth is already quite pleasing and doesn't really need any improvement.

A smile with a diastema between its center teeth.
The smile after Invisalign orthodontic treatment.

Photo submitted by website visitor.

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Treatment solutions:

1) Making a decision to close the space using orthodontic treatment.

As mentioned previously, there are a couple of different techniques that a dentist might use to close a diastema. With this case (other than braces) it seems that either porcelain veneers or dental bonding could be used.

Both of these methods, however, seem to approach the problem from the wrong side. If the teeth already have a nice color and shape (something that bonding and veneers are often used to improve), why not treat the real underlying problem and just straighten the teeth?

Placing veneers or bonding will involve long-term maintenance issues, both planned and unplanned. This includes making repairs and, especially for relatively younger patients, the need to replace their existing work with new restorations later on in life.

Considering this disadvantage, the comparatively minor inconvenience of needing to wear a retainer after having braces may seem the more attractive option.

2) Invisalign® treatment.

It seems likely that Invisalign® could be used to make the changes we've shown in our "after" picture. Possibly even Invisalign Express®. Compared to traditional braces, here are some of the advantages that this technique offers.

  • Invisalign® tooth aligners are clear. When they are worn, it's relatively hard for others to detect them.
  • The aligners can be removed (like when eating or cleaning your teeth). This makes having braces easier to tolerate. They can also be taken out for especially important functions, which might be an attractive feature for Dr. Rice.

Of course, we only have a picture to evaluate. This method does have limitations in regard to the types of cases that it can be used to treat. (Here are some diagrams showing how dentists use Invisalign®.) Only her dentist could determine if this would be an appropriate approach for closing her tooth gap.

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