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Gap teeth are one of the most common cosmetic dental issues, caused by everything from thumb-sucking to gum disease. It's possible to cosmetically or surgically address these dental issues, but are the methods worth the cost?

The technical term for a tooth gap is diastema, from the Greek stem diastanai, meaning "to stand apart." A gap can occur anywhere in the mouth. Dentists often treat a gap when it occurs in the top row of teeth along the front and is visible whenever you open your mouth or smile.

Gap teeth can result from several issues. First, teeth may be too small in proportion to the jaw bone, causing a space. Very small or missing teeth may also allow other teeth to spread out, causing gaps between teeth. Sucking your thumb in childhood can force front teeth forward, causing a gap, as well as pushing your tongue against your teeth when you swallow.

If the tissue located above two front teeth (the labial frenum) is oversized, it may cause a gap by growing between these teeth. Gum disease can also create a space as teeth loosen due to bone loss. While most gaps begin to form in childhood, gum disease can cause problems at any age. Periodontists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gum disease, also called periodontal disease.

Methods and costs of closing teeth gaps

You have a host of options when it comes to fixing a gap between teeth, and these options can vary in cost and effectiveness.

The least expensive are teeth-effect bands. You slip these rubber bands over your teeth at night, causing them to draw closer together. 

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