Do gaps in baby teeth mean anything?


The Gap Up Front

Even more common than spaces between baby teeth is a space between the two upper front teeth. It's one of the biggest concerns for parents when it comes to their child's teeth, although it's a purely cosmetic issue. Space between the upper front teeth may be caused by the maxillary frenulum. That's the stringy piece of tissue connecting the gum between the two front teeth and the upper lip.

"If this band of tissue is broad and positioned low on the gums (close to, or between, the upper front teeth) it can cause this space," writes Dr. Rhea Haugseth, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry [source: Haugseth]. "If this tissue is the cause, most likely the permanent front teeth will also have this space."

An evaluation by your child's dentist will give you the options for treatment. However, it's best to wait until adult teeth erupt in [source: Shenkin]. Once this occurs, one option is to undertake a frenectomy [source: Dental Health Index] to reduce the tension and, in theory, cause closure of the space between the front teeth. This procedure involves snipping the tissue between the gums and the teeth. The surgery itself is fairly short and simple and can be undertaken in 10 to 15 minutes by a dentist or orthodontist, but it may take a few weeks to completely heal. Braces are the common solution for any other spaces that may occur between permanent teeth.

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Sources

  • American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. "Homepage." 2002-2011. (Aug. 19, 2011).
  • American Dental Association. "Baby Teeth." 1995-2011. (Aug. 22, 2011)
  • Boston University. "ADA Appoints Dr. Jonathan Shenkin as Spokesperson." Nov. 23, 2009 (Aug. 26, 2011)
  • Dental Health Index. "Frenectomy." 2011. (Aug. 26, 2011)
  • Harner Orthodontics. "Harner Orthodontics Early Orthodontic Treatment Tooth Eruption Sequence." YouTube. April 5, 2010 (Aug. 22, 2011) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSktcrJ2Wk4
  • Haugseth, Rhea. AAPD President. Personal Correspondence. Aug. 22, 2011.
  • Shenkin, Jonathan. Clinical Assistant Professor of Health Policy, Health Services Research and Pediatric Dentistry, Boston University School of Dental Medicine. Personal Interview. Aug. 19, 2011.

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