What is a diastema? Causes and treatments

¿Qué es un diastema? Causas y tratamientos
Families sometimes come to their children's dentist's office worried about the appearance of diastemas between their children's teeth. Let's discover their origin and their treatment.

What is diastema: causes and treatments

Diastema is to have gapped teeth. Families sometimes come to their children’s dentist’s office worried about the appearance of a diastema on their kid´s teeth. 

Is it normal for kids to have gapped teeth?

We know as a diastema the space that separates two adjacent teeth, that is, when these teeth do not contact each other. They are also commonly known as the “gaps between teeth”, especially between the upper central incisors, giving a “gapped teeth” appearance.


Example of diastema


Can diastema fix itself?

Diastema is common in children during temporary dentition, that is, in milk teeth, but they it generally disappears as they grow and acquire the permanent dentition. In adolescents or young people, with the eruption of the upper canines, the gaps, or interdental spaces, usually close.

The pediatric dentist is trained and prepared to assess and treat when necessary the gaps that appear in pediatric patients’ teeth.


How common is diastema?

There are several causes that can lead to the appearance of gapped teeth in children, teenagers and young people:

  • Supernumerary teeth: the mesiodens, which are the most frequent supernumerary teeth, often generate spaces between the maxillary central incisors. The presence of these “extra” teeth is confirmed with a periapical, occlusal, or panoramic radiograph.

  • Dental agenesis: the lack of the upper lateral incisors can cause an increase in the space between the upper central incisors or diastema.

  • Eruptive disorders: miscellaneous eruption disorders, such as those related to primary dentition trauma or ectopic eruption of a tooth. Learn more about our dental esthetics services for children and adolescents.

  • Loss of teeth: the spaces that appear after the loss of a tooth can be extended to neighboring areas.

  • Digital suction: The habit of “sucking your thumb” can cause a tilt of the upper incisors, and with it, an inter-incisor gap can appear.

  • Tongue hyperactivity or macroglossia: excess pressure and/or lingual size causes an imbalance between the lingual and perioral musculature, so that the dental arches increase their perimeter and the teeth separate.

  • Fissure cyst of the nasopalatine duct: although it is a rare pathology, it is also related in some cases to “gapped teeth”.

  • Positive bone-dental discrepancy: the length of the maxillary arch is greater than the sum of the mesio-distal diameters of the teeth, so there is a gapped appearance.

  • Microdontia or triangular-shaped teeth: microdontia are abnormalities in tooth size and can be generalized or localized. The generalized ones appear with the presence of multiple gaps unequally distributed in the two dental arches. The localized ones are located in the upper lateral incisors, which usually have the appearance of conoid teeth.

  • Upper lip frenulum: when the maxillary labial frenulum is too large and is inserted to occupy part of the space between the maxillary central incisors, it can cause a gap, thus separating the teeth. Much research has suggested that the natural process of growth and development leads to thinning of the upper labial frenulum, so this cause may disappear over time. If this is not the case, find out more in our blog about Upper labial frenulum surgery: What is it and when should it be done?



How can diastema be corrected?

If the cause is related to the presence of a hypertrophic or low-insertion frenulum, a surgical evaluation by a specialized pediatric dentist could be incorporated into the therapeutic options, in case its removal is necessary



Luckily, a dental gap does not present risks to oral health. However, some families and patients choose to undergo treatments to improve the appearance of their smile.

Also, there are different therapeutic strategies for joining separated teeth, including conventional orthodontics with braces, invisible orthodontics or aesthetic composite or ceramic veneers.


How to solve a diastema without braces?

In the cases in which it is indicated, surgery will be chosen, eliminating the frenulum. This surgery can be performed by laser or conventional surgery.

As we have already mentioned, depending on the origin or cause of the gap, the treatment plan will change to join gapped teeth. Therefore, we do not always opt for the use of orthodontic systems with braces.

In addition, there are currently different types of orthodontic treatment, such as invisible orthodontics. Therefore, braces are no longer the only therapeutic alternative. Learn more about our orthodontic services for children.


How long does it take to close a diastema?

Finally, treatment time of a diastema differs between each patient according to the type, the origin or cause of the gapped teeth, as well as the therapeutic alternatives that can be offered to the child, adolescent or young person.



Boj JR, Cortés O, González P, Ferreira L. Odontopediatría Clínica. México DF. Odontología Books, 2018.

Boj JR, Catalá M, Mendoza A, Planells P, Cortés O, Odontopediatría. Bebés, niños y adolescentes. México DF. Odontología Books, 2019.

Boj JR, González, P, Hernández M, Cortés O, Odontopediatría. Dudas y aclaraciones. México DF. Odontología Books, 2019.

Boj JR, Auría B, Cortés O, Stucchi C, González P, Espasa E. Formación clínica en Odontopediatría. Barcelona. Editorial Universidad de Barcelona, 2021.

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