Fix Teeth Gaps Without Braces (Easier Than You Think)
Gaps can form anywhere along your smile. They're often most noticeable when they crop up between your top two teeth. The gap gleams each time you smile, talk, or eat. And sometimes, that space allows fluids to fly out of your mouth at the most inopportune times.
Braces can help to correct gapped teeth. But there are several competing tools, including crowns, bonding, veneers, and aligners that can do the job just as well. And sometimes, these alternative treatments come with a lower price tag and less pain than braces.
Why Fix your Gap Teeth?
In some cultures, gaps are considered lucky, unusual, or beautiful. But in the United States, many people opt to fix a smile with gaps. In one informal study, a dentist reported that 6,000 new patients in one year requested a gap closure.
Gaps are attention-getting. If you want people to notice your beauty, rather than homing in on one part of your mouth, seeking out smile help makes sense.
Gaps can also lead to problems, such as these:
Decay: The space in the gums between gapped teeth can become an area that is vulnerable to bacteria and food particle buildup, resulting in gum irritation. If left untreated, this could cause gum problems and decay.
Speech disorders: Tongues tap on teeth. When the muscles hit dead air — like the space between gapped teeth — hard consonants and other sounds don't come through clearly.
Chewing disorders: Gaps often mean teeth don't meet correctly, and that could make biting tough.
Weakened enamel: If the gaps in your teeth are caused by misalignment, it could mean that your bite is off. Malocclusion (teeth misalignment) can cause enamel wear if teeth aren’t aligning properly and it’s causing tooth abrasion. Weakened enamel can increase your risk of tooth damage, decay, and even tooth loss.
Braces aren't Always Necessary
Experts say that braces are common solutions for gapped teeth. Doctors glue brackets to the front of your teeth, and that hardware is connected by wires that tighten. Sign up for this treatment, and your gap will disappear. But it isn't right for everyone.
Braces come with significant risks, including:
It's hard to clean around the wires and brackets that cover your teeth.
Hardware can scrape and injure your tongue and lips.
When your mouth hurts, it's hard to eat properly.
Braces can cost thousands, and the treatment isn't always covered by insurance.
When Do Braces Make Sense?
Dentists have plenty of other options they can use to treat a gapped smile. In fact, in a study of treatments for gapped teeth, five methods were mentioned. Not one of them involved braces.
Braces are good solutions for people with significant dental problems, dentists say. If your gaps are compounded by significant crowding of your other teeth, for example, or you have multiple gaps all along your jawline, you might need significant smile interventions. Braces could be a smart choice.
But braces aren't right for every mouth. And you have plenty of treatment options to choose from.
5 Common Ways Experts Treat Gaps in Teeth Without Braces
Walk into a dental office, and ask for a better smile. The person you talk to has an array of options to share with you.
Your dental expert might recommend:
Crowns are caps that go over your teeth to protect or repair a damaged tooth, or to provide a new look and shape to the tooth. Crowns are not usually used for cosmetic purposes alone, but if the tooth needs a crown anyway, it may be helpful to close a gap.
For minor gaps, crowns might be placed over each tooth on both sides of the gap with a fuller shape, creating even-looking teeth and minimizing the appearance of the gap. For gaps that are caused by a missing tooth, crowns might be applied to the tooth on each side of the gap to provide strength and structure for a restorative procedure like a bridge.
Crowns can cost around $800 to $1,500 per tooth, largely depending on the crown material chosen. For example, porcelain crowns are more expensive than metal crowns.
Dental bonding is a reversible cosmetic treatment. During the procedure, a resin material matching your tooth color is applied to a tooth or teeth in order to change their shape and appearance.
To minimize a gap, bonding would likely be applied to the teeth on either side of the gap for an even and gap-free appearance. Bonding may cost $300 to $600 or more per tooth.
Veneers are custom-made coverings that fit over a tooth or teeth to give them a new look and appearance. To make room for the veneer, teeth are first filed down, meaning that some enamel is removed.
Traditional veneers are not reversible, and they are not suitable for people with oral health issues. Veneers may cost around $800 to $1,800 or more per tooth.
A tooth gap band is a do-it-yourself type of orthodontic treatment in which an elastic or rubber band is placed around the two teeth on the sides of the gap in order to apply pressure for the two teeth to move closer to each other and minimize the gap. This kind of treatment is widely advised against by the dental and orthodontic community.
Tooth gap bands can cause damage to the gums and jaw and should be avoided.
If your gap is caused by a missing tooth or teeth, dental implants may be an option for restoring your bite and smile. With dental implants, a metal screw-like post replaces tooth roots, and a realistic artificial tooth replaces the missing tooth. Bone then develops around the implants to provide strength and stability.
Dental implants require a long and involved process. They are not used just to correct tooth gaps.
Aligners for Gap Teeth
Aligners offer the opportunity to amend a gap between teeth without a significant cash outlay. You could get the smile you want without breaking your budget.
Doctor-supervised aligners, like those prescribed through the Byte telehealth platform, can come with a small price tag of under $2,000.
Aligners work well for people with small to medium gaps in otherwise healthy teeth. And it's easy to get started. Often, you can make impressions of your teeth at home and send them in to get custom aligners made. For those hoping for corrections with a low price tag, this could be the right solution.
Will Insurance Cover Treatment for Fixing a Gap in Teeth?
Whether or not your dental insurance will cover treatment of your gap teeth will depend on your policy and the cause of your tooth gap.
If you have coverage for orthodontic treatment, and your gap is caused by an orthodontic issue like teeth misalignment (malocclusion), some or all of your treatment may be covered, particularly if it’s braces or aligners.
Treatment coverage may also be available if the gap is causing dental problems, like gum irritation or tooth abrasion, or in cases requiring the restoration of missing teeth.
While orthodontic and restorative treatment may be at least partially covered by some dental insurance plans, cosmetic procedures will most likely not be covered. An exception to this may be cosmetic procedures that are used to fix a gap that has been caused by an accident or injury.