Space: The Final Frontier



A question that I get asked regularly is “why does my kid have spaces between their teeth”.  Most parents want to know if the spacing is normal or if it means that their child is destined to get braces. They worry that the spacing will cause future problems and want to know if there is something that can be done right away. Typically by age 3 to 4 all of the child’s baby teeth have erupted. Sometimes these baby teeth may have spaces between them and sometimes they may have no spacing at all.  Both of these scenarios are normal. Whether or not the child will need braces depends on a lot more than their baby teeth. It also depends on their jaw development and on the shape and size of the adult teeth. 


Kids are good at growing

What most parents forget is that adult teeth are much bigger in length and width than baby teeth.  These baby teeth will fall out and the adult teeth will takeover the position. In fact, because the adult teeth are larger they will need more space than what the baby teeth provide in order to erupt properly. The body knows this and creates spacing between baby teeth for this very purpose. The other thing to remember is that the jaws will continue to develop and grow as children age. This can also lead to spacing but this growth is necessary. Kids have a total of 20 baby teeth but as adults we end up with 32 teeth that are much larger in size than the baby teeth. To make room for all these bigger teeth the body needs space. Spacing will allow more room for the adult teeth to grow in comfortably. So think of these spaces as a good thing.


When should you step in

 The surprising this is that the issue most kids end up with as they grow into teenagers is crowding. This comes from a lack of space for the adult teeth and results in the adult teeth trying to come out any way they can. Once all the teeth are out you will find many that are not in the right position or direction. Even if kids do end up keeping the spaces between their adult teeth it is usually an easier fix than those with no spacing or crowding. In some cases though dentists can step in and help fix issues before they turn into big problems. This is why it’s important to keep up with the child’s 6-month check ups. The check ups allow the dentist to review their x-rays and let parents know when its time to see the Orthodontist. It also means you’ll have more time to start saving for braces since we all know a straight smile doesn’t come cheap.