Diastema refers to a gap between your teeth. Gaps can occur anywhere in your mouth, but they’re most common between your two front teeth. This condition is usually a cosmetic concern, but sometimes, it’s related to gum disease. Diastema treatments include dental bonding, porcelain veneers and braces.


What is diastema?

Diastema is the clinical term for a gap between teeth. While gaps can develop anywhere in your mouth, diastema is most common between your two front teeth (midline diastema).

Gaps between your teeth may be small or large. Diastema usually doesn’t have a negative impact on your oral health. However, in some cases, it could be a symptom of gum disease.

Who does diastema affect?

Diastema affects both children and adults. The condition is more common in children, and gaps between their teeth may close once their permanent (adult) teeth come in.

Midline diastema (when there’s a gap between the two upper front teeth) is more common among certain populations. For example, people who are Black are more likely to have diastema compared to people who are white people or of Asian descent.

Is a diastema normal?

Yes. Diastema is a common occurrence, and most healthcare providers view it as a variation of normal dental development.

How does diastema affect my oral health?

Most of the time, diastema shouldn’t cause any oral health concerns. However, if the gap between your teeth is due to periodontitis, you may need gum disease treatment.


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Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of diastema?

There’s only one sign of diastema: A gap between your teeth. If your teeth and gums are healthy, there usually aren’t any other symptoms.

If gum disease caused a gap between your teeth, you may notice pain, redness, swelling or other gum disease symptoms.

What causes diastema?

Many people are genetically prone to diastema. That’s why the condition sometimes runs in families. This may be caused by:

  • Missing teeth.
  • Teeth that are too small.
  • An oversized frenum (the band of connective tissue that connects your lip to your gums).

In some cases, diastema may develop because of an abnormal swallowing reflex. For example, your tongue should press against the roof of your mouth when you swallow. However, if you press your tongue against your front teeth instead, the repetitive pressure can cause a gap to form over time.

For some people, gaps between their teeth form as a result of advanced gum disease. With this condition, infection erodes your jawbone, causing gaps and loose teeth.


Diagnosis and Tests

How is diastema diagnosed?

Your dentist can diagnose diastema during a routine dental exam. No further testing is required.

Management and Treatment

How do you fix diastema?

There are several ways to fix diastema. Treatment depends on whether the condition is due to gum disease or if it’s only a cosmetic issue.

Cosmetic treatments for diastema

If your teeth are healthy and you simply wish to close the gap between your teeth, there are several cosmetic dental treatments available, including:

  • Dental bonding. Your dentist applies a tooth-colored composite resin material to conceal the gap. Then, your teeth are shaped and polished for a natural appearance.
  • Porcelain veneers. These are custom-made ceramic shells that permanently adhere to your front tooth surfaces. They can close down a gap between the teeth for a more uniform look.
  • Braces. If the gap is large, you may need braces or clear orthodontic aligners to physically move your teeth closer together. (In mild cases, your dentist can usually fix diastema without braces.)
  • Frenectomy. An oral frenum is a band of tissue that connects your lip to your gums. If this piece of tissue is too thick, it can push your teeth apart, creating a gap. A frenectomy releases this band of tissue. In many cases, frenectomy is performed in combination with another cosmetic procedure, such as dental bonding or veneers.
  • Dental bridge. If the gap between your teeth is due to a missing tooth, your dentist may recommend a bridge to replace it. To place a bridge, you must have two healthy teeth on either side of the gap. These teeth will be altered to serve as anchors for your new restoration.
  • Dental implant. Like a dental bridge, an implant replaces a missing tooth. But with a dental implant, there’s no need to alter the neighboring teeth. An implant is a threaded titanium post that replaces a missing tooth root. Once it’s healed, a dental crown is used to restore it and close the gap between your teeth.

Gum disease treatments for diastema

If diastema is the result of gum disease, then you’ll need periodontal treatment first to get rid of harmful bacteria. Once the infection is under control, you can choose to address the gap between your teeth with one of the cosmetic treatments listed above.

Common gum treatments include:

  • Scaling and root planing. If you have mild gum disease, your dentist may recommend scaling and root planing — a deep dental cleaning. It’s similar to a regular cleaning, but you’ll be numb so your provider can reach bacteria that are hiding deep under your gums.
  • Gingival flap surgery. If you have moderate to advanced gum disease, you may need gum surgery. During this procedure, your periodontist creates an incision along your gum line, then temporarily moves your gums back so they can see your teeth roots. After thoroughly cleaning your teeth roots, your gums are repositioned and sutured (stitched) back into place. If you have bone loss around a tooth, your surgeon may also place a dental bone graft to help regenerate bone tissue in that area.



Can I prevent diastema?

There’s no way to prevent diastema when it’s caused by genetics. It’s simply a characteristic that your parents or grandparents passed down to you.

However, you can reduce your risk of infection-related diastema by practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings and exams. If you notice redness, swelling, bleeding or other signs of gum disease, schedule a visit with your dentist right away.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have diastema?

Unless diastema is caused by infection, it’s nothing to worry about. It doesn’t have a negative impact on your oral health. In fact, many people embraced the gap between their teeth as a unique characteristic of beauty.

If you prefer to close the gap between your teeth, there are plenty of treatment options available to help you reach your cosmetic goals.

Does diastema increase with age?

In a healthy mouth, diastema shouldn’t increase with age. If you notice the gap between your teeth is getting wider, call your dentist, as it could be due to gum disease.

Living With

When should I see my dentist?

If you’re bothered by the gap between your teeth, schedule a consultation with your dentist. They can discuss your treatment options with you in detail.

In general, be sure to see your dentist at least every six months for regular dental exams and cleanings.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

In most cases, diastema is nothing to worry about. It doesn’t affect your oral health or function. In fact, a gap between your teeth is considered a mark of beauty by many cultures around the world. But if you decide you’d rather close the gap, cosmetic dental treatments can help you achieve the healthy, gorgeous and long-lasting smile you desire.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 07/15/2022.

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