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What Causes Gapped Teeth?

Medically known as diastema, gapped teeth bring good luck in some cultures and symbolize beauty in others. While some people with gaps between their teeth have no aesthetic or health issues, others are motivated to seek treatment due to gapped teeth that cause problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and social isolation. The best family dentist in Placerville, CA, pulled together the possible reasons why some people have gapped teeth. 

Family Dentist in Placerville CA shows gapped teeth

Potential Causes of Gapped Teeth

Abnormally Large Frenum  

The thin tissue that grows between the front teeth is called the frenum. Moreover, it connects the upper lip to the upper gums. However, the frenum grows too large in some cases, causing the front teeth to separate. As a result, a gap develops between them. 

Although gapped teeth resulting from a large frenum don’t necessarily require correction, dental professionals perform an elective in-office procedure called a frenectomy to loosen and remove an abnormal frenum.  


Microdontia refers to a genetic condition of having teeth that are too small for the space they’re in. While microdontia can occur on its own, it can also be compounded by the genetic absence of teeth. Due to their smaller-than-average teeth, patients don’t get proper tooth contact and alignment, leading to gaps between teeth.  

Jaw Size  

Dental health experts confirm that jaw size plays a significant role in teeth alignment. Patients with a wide or large jaw often develop gapped teeth because their teeth have more space to move or shift. It’s also possible to have abnormal spacing and gaps between teeth when a person has too much room in the jaw and smaller teeth.  

In addition, having a large jaw or getting a tooth extracted creates an open space where there’s less pressure on the teeth. Since teeth aren’t completely immobile, they gradually move to fill the space more evenly, leading to gaps.  

Poor Swallowing Reflex

Poor swallowing reflexes can lead to spacing issues. In most cases, people put their tongues against the roof of their mouths while eating a portion of food. However, some people instinctively push their tongues toward the front of their mouths while chewing. Also known as tongue thrusters, these people put pressure on their tongues as they move them forward, creating gaps between their front teeth. 

Bad Dental Habits

People who don’t inherit gapped teeth may still have spaces between their front teeth due to harmful dental habits. For instance, continued tongue-thrusting or finger or pacifier-sucking can cause this problem because these habits prevent the teeth from growing into the mouth correctly. Consequently, family dentists recommend that parents gently discourage thumb- or pacifier-sucking when a child is past the age of four.  

Poor Gum Health

The lack of oral hygiene and dental care often leads to Poor gum health. Unfortunately, unhealthy gums can significantly affect teeth because the gums help hold them in place. Poor gum health can trigger gum infections, receding gums, and loose teeth if left untreated. 

It’s worth noting that these gum disease symptoms can also cause teeth to shift out of their correct positions. As a result, this condition often creates new and exaggerated spaces between teeth. Worse, gum disease can cause irreversible bone and tooth loss and triggers an inflammatory response that affects the whole body. 

If you suspect you have gum disease, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with a trusted family dentist immediately. 

Family Dentist in Placerville CA checks patient's teeth

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