Can Clear Aligners Really Close Gaps?

woman with tooth gap

Having a larger than normal gap between two teeth can make you feel reluctant to smile. Because of this, you have started investigating options for closing the gap with orthodontic treatment. Clear aligners are a popular alternative to traditional metal braces for the purpose of straightening teeth. They can also be useful for closing gaps measuring six millimeters or less. This blog outlines several situations where a clear aligner can be the best choice for closing a cap between two teeth.

Front Tooth Gaps

Extra space between the front two teeth is a common occurrence. If you can fit anything wider than a string of dental floss through your two front teeth, you could be a good candidate for orthodontic treatment with clear aligners. Since you are treating only two teeth, the process is typically shorter than standard treatment.

Genetic Causes

Also known as generalized spacing, a genetic tooth gap is one that occurs naturally as your permanent teeth grow in. Size of the teeth or excessive space in the arch or jaw are common reasons for generalized spacing to occur. Clear aligners apply pressure to all teeth in the upper or lower jaw to force the teeth in question to move closer together.

Lifestyle Habits

Children who suck their thumb or use a pacifier for a long time can experience problems with tooth alignment and gaps between teeth later in life. Adults can cause these types of problems as well when they make a habit of chewing on non-food items. Teenagers or adults who have tooth gap issues due to lifestyle habits can correct the problem with clear aligners.

Persistent Gap After Wearing Braces

Sometimes people wear braces for two or three years and still have a gap between two teeth when the orthodontist removes the braces. In other cases, a gap can re-develop after the braces have been off for a while. Wearing a clear aligner after treatment with braces can help to correct or prevent this problem.

Previous Tooth Extraction

A supernumerary tooth is an extra tooth that grows on top of other teeth. This is just one possible reason for tooth extraction. Your orthodontist may also recommend extraction of one or two teeth to make room for other teeth to shift during treatment. Losing a tooth in an accident or having it extracted due to dental disease are other common reasons for missing a natural tooth and having a large gap in your smile. Clear aligners can be an appropriate treatment method if the gap is less than six millimeters.

Why Treating Gaps in Teeth is Important

Having a gap between teeth can create pockets where food becomes trapped and difficult to dislodge. When this problem persists untreated, your gums can become tender and develop gum disease. Tooth decay is another risk of leaving your gap teeth untreated. Although many people pursue orthodontic treatment with clear aligners for cosmetic purposes, protecting your oral health is just as important.

How Does Treating Tooth Gaps with Clear Aligners Work?

If you are interested in closing the gap between your teeth, ask your dentist for a referral to an orthodontist who works with invisible teeth aligners like Smile Direct Club. You may also be able to receive treatment from your own dentist since some general dentists have orthodontic training.

During your first appointment, the orthodontist will examine your teeth and jaws and then take digital pictures. The digital pictures help to show the extent of the gap between your teeth and help the orthodontist create a customized treatment plan for you. A dental laboratory uses the same images to create a set of clear aligners based on your treatment goals.

Once your customized aligners are ready, you will visit the orthodontic practice again for a fitting of your first aligner. The orthodontist will make any necessary adjustments to ensure a snug, comfortable fit. You will take home a set of aligners, and you should replace each one approximately every two weeks. The number of aligners you receive depends on how long your orthodontist expects it to take to close the gap between your teeth.

When You Are Not a Candidate for Clear Aligners

If the gap between your teeth is larger than six millimeters or you have other issues that might not respond to this type of treatment, your dentist can help you explore other options. Veneers are one possibility. A veneer is a thin piece of ceramic that a dentist attaches to the front of a tooth surface to disguise minor cosmetic issues. The veneer would sit on a portion of each tooth to help cover the gap.