(480) 899-52402470 West Ray Road Suite 1, Chandler, AZ 85224

Daniel G. Kline DDS - Chandler Dentist

(480) 899-5240

2470 West Ray Road Suite 1, Chandler, AZ 85224

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Gap-Toothed Madness

Posted by Editor in , , on June 12, 2017

The dental term for a gap in the teeth is “diastema,” and although it can happen between any teeth, it’s most common between the front teeth (or “upper incisors”). The cause is simple: The size of the teeth and the jaw don’t match. There’s nothing wrong with this, and asymmetry is common in all species including humans. However, there’s something about that front tooth diastema that’s hauntingly beautiful in various cultures and ages.

Diastema can range from very slight to quite extreme. It’s exacerbated when the tissue that connects the gum to the lip recesses from tongue thrusting. This cocktail can push the teeth even farther apart. When you think of gapped teeth, you might think about Madonna, Terry Thomas, or a smattering of British models with those so perfect imperfect teeth. However, lusting after slight “flaws” is nothing new. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about the “gap-toothed wife of Bath” in his Canterbury Tales, equating such a gap with intense sensuality. Clearly, such a quality has been linked with beauty since at least the Middle Ages.

Beauty Around the World

In some countries like Nigeria and Ghana, diastemata is a sign of fertility and considered very attractive. There are even cosmetic dentists in these countries specializing in creating diastemata where it doesn’t exist. However, Africa isn’t the only region where this happens. Diastemata is called “dents du Bonheur” or “lucky teeth” in France, originally dubbed from Napolean’s era.

France covets gapped teeth for a different reason. When Napolean was recruiting fighters for his army, it was required that all fighters have thick teeth with no gaps. The reason? You had to use your teeth to open powder magazines and recharge rifles! Gapped teeth made it tough to do so, or at least Napolean thought so, and you were dismissed from duty if you had diastemata. Unsurprisingly, this led to men busting their own teeth to avoid military duty. Since then, it’s come to be linked with an act of rebellion simply to have gapped teeth (and everybody finds a bad boy or girl attractive).