Q: I have noticed that gaps have started appearing in my teeth of late. I am 30 three years old and my dentist has said that my hygiene is decent so I am a bit concerned about this and how to prevent it.

A: First off, thanks for your question because many people in their mid-thirties have similar issues and I am sure that they would be interested to know the possible solution for this extremely concerning situation.

A lot of people assume that the teeth you have in your twenties are the same ones you will have in your fifties – and nothing could be further from the truth. Teeth are constantly undergoing changes due to various reasons such as reduced facial muscle tone, wear and tear, shifts in position because of other teeth missing and so on.

A common factor that affects especially women is tongue thrust. If you find it impossible to swallow with your lips apart (try it!) and your tongue is pushing on your front teeth while attempting to swallow that probably means that you have a tongue thrust problem. The tongue position should be on the palate while swallowing - not on the teeth. This is an infantile swallow pattern which in some people never goes away and causes teeth to shift at a later age – usually in the mid-thirties.

The second most common cause for gaps to appear and teeth to shift is gum disease which your dentist has already ruled out. A third reason could be if you have missing teeth at the back and all the chewing is done on the front teeth, the resulting imbalanced chewing forces will cause the front teeth to flare outwards. In this case it is extremely important to have the back teeth replaced as soon as possible to re-establish the bite either using implants or dentures.

Most of these situations are reversible and can be corrected with orthodontics using invisible aligners or braces once the main cause has been addressed. Missing gum in between teeth that appear as black triangles might be a bit more difficult to correct but can be done through other means such as veneers or crowns.

Remember that most of these scenarios are much easier to prevent in the initial stages and hence the need for regular check-ups and early intervention. Please consult with a dental expert to assess your situation - the cause and the suggest the best treatment going forwards.

Dr Tanveer Ahmed is medical director at New Ivory Dental & Implant Clinic. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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