Orthodontic treatment, more often know as a dental brace, is often considered a good treatment option to correct small gaps or spacing in teeth, especially if the teeth are more or less intact and of the correct size and proportion. Modern orthodontic treatment can be tailored to your preferences, with options that allow treatment to be done discreetly or even invisibly. Lingual braces and Invisalign® are examples of the ‘hidden’ brace approach.
However, some instances of spacing and gaps in teeth can be addressed with other treatments where appropriate.
Read on to find out about all the options available.
Non-brace options for filling gaps in teeth
Not all gaps in teeth need braces as a correctional measure. The need for braces, or not, depends entirely on why the gap has formed. The dentist will have to diagnose what has happened to the teeth to cause the gap and can then decide which solution will be the most effective.
These are the alternatives to braces, each of which depends on the dental condition.
Dental implants or bridges
Small gaps between teeth can be filled by using tooth-coloured composite bonding to close the localised spaces. This is a relatively simple, long-lasting and non-invasive procedure and produces excellent results when done well in the appropriate case.
Dental veneers are placed over teeth to improve their overall shape and appearance. These might be indicated if the teeth are smaller than normal, worn down, abraded or damaged through acid erosion (from diet or factors such as acid reflux). Veneers might also be indicated if the tooth shapes and proportions are incorrect, or the teeth are malformed in some way.
Using dental crowns to close a gap in teeth is only recommended if the teeth have been damaged in some way, by large fillings or decay of fracture, or in severe wear/erosion cases. They fit over a prepared tooth to restore the shape, strength and aesthetics.
Is it better to have braces to fill gaps?
Having braces fitted will depend on the condition of the teeth and the reason for the gap. Braces will generally be considered if the teeth are a good shape and size, just with a gap or gaps visible. The gap(s) is likely to be caused by the arch length, which would need to be treated orthodontically to be corrected. In the case of a missing tooth or teeth, braces are sometimes to best choice to close the space, especially if the teeth are crowded or misaligned and need orthodontic correction anyway. Braces are often the best choice for young patients (adolescents) with congenitally missing teeth.
Orthodontic treatment is the best solution to treat cases like this since it is minimally invasive, requires the least upkeep, and doesn’t involve anything artificial being added to the teeth. When teeth are in good condition, braces result in the least additional maintenance and dentistry needed after the gap has been corrected.
However, if the patient’s teeth are broken, worn, too small or too short, their braces will need to be followed up with extra treatment, such as composite bonding, veneers or crowns. If there are gaps due to missing teeth in adults, implants or bridgework might be the best option.
In any case our specialised team will advise on the best approach and options as well as guide the patient through treatment. In many cases where the teeth are intact and not severely damaged or worn, treatment will involve two to three stages:
The patient’s teeth will be realigned to reduce the size of the gap or close it completely. This will be done using braces.
The teeth will be whitened to improve the colour.
3. Composite bonding and/or veneers
After correcting the alignment of teeth and when appropriate (i.e. where the teeth need further restoration) we may also need to use composite bonding or veneers to optimise the tooth shapes and proportions and get the best possible aesthetic result.
New orthodontic options for less visible braces
Many patients dislike the idea of a brace on their teeth due to how visible it is. In recent years, a number of new orthodontic options have been developed to create a less visible brace solution to help correct gaps in teeth.
Invisalign braces have been created to align teeth using clear, removable aligners. These aligners are created using SmartTrack material and are 3-D printed using an intra-oral scanner to create highly accurate, customised aligners. These aligners are worn every day and changed every one to two weeks. The progress of the Invisalign braces will be supported by a retainer after treatment has concluded.
Beyond their classic clear aligner braces, Invisalign also offers ‘Invisalign and Go’ braces, which are used to treat milder teeth misalignment.
It’s important to note that while Invisalign is a great choice for treating alignment issues so that the patient can achieve straight teeth, it will not correct all ‘malocclusions’ (tooth or bite misalignments). Other forms of braces may be more suitable for more complex spacing or bite issues.
These braces are similar to traditional metal braces but are fitted on the inside of teeth, meaning that they are invisible from the outside and when the patient smiles.
Not all orthodontists use this method because lingual braces need specialised training and experience. Lingual braces can also be less effective and cannot be used in certain situations. At the Windsor Centre for Advanced Dentistry, our skilled and experienced orthodontist offers the full range of brace options and can advise on the best choice and the various pros and cons of the choice of braces.
These braces are the same size and shape as traditional braces but are tooth-coloured or clear brackets, which blend into the teeth more effectively than regular metal ones. Some ceramic braces also use tooth-coloured wires between brackets to make the braces even less conspicuous.
The one issue with ceramic braces is that they can stain easily if they are not well cared for.
Let us help you
If you have a gap in your teeth and would like to discuss the options available to you for treatment, come and speak to us at the Windsor Centre for Advanced Dentistry. Contact us today to start your journey back to your smile.