My nine-year-old daughter’s permanent teeth seem to have more gaps between them than her milk teeth did. Will these spaces close with time or will she require braces to correct this?

In many children, as the permanent teeth erupt, there will be a gap between the upper front teeth. This is considered almost normal.

The spacing can be either because her teeth are protruding forward, or are either small in relation to the dental arch or normal in a large dental arch.

The spaced upper incisors are not very aesthetic and hence this stage is referred to as the ugly duckling stage of development.

Normally, if the space between the two front teeth – called midline diastema – is small (2mm or less), it will close spontaneously as her upper canines erupt.

However, if the midline diastema is large, there is less chance of the space closing by itself. The orthodontist may then advise an X-ray to determine if there is an extra tooth between the roots (supernumerary tooth) or if there is any other causative factor for the spacing.

If the teeth are severely protruded with the spacing, then apart from aesthetic concerns, there is also greater risk of the teeth getting damaged when the child has a fall. In these cases, orthodontic treatment can be done using simple removable appliances or sectional fixed appliances (braces fixed only on the front permanent teeth), which can close the spaces 
and also push back the protruding teeth.

I would recommend you have your daughter’s teeth examined by an orthodontist, who will be able to diagnose if there is any problem that needs to be treated at this stage.