Diastema is a term used to describe a gap between two teeth. Many celebrities have a diastema including Madonna, Eddie Murphy, Jack Black, Lauren Hutton, Amelia Earheart, and Willie Nelson. For some people, a diastema makes their smile unique, and they choose to keep the charming midline gap.
A diastema is a natural feature of several mammal species, especially herbivores. The diastema in the dentition of animals such as rodents, sheep, and beavers allow food to be routed into the cheek so consumption can continue unimpeded. A diastema also allows material from gnawing to be expelled through the gap.
Some people in medieval times believed that women with gapped teeth (or, say it with me, a diastema) were passionate. Geoffrey Chaucer mentioned the “gap-toothed wife of Bath” in his Canterbury Tales, which is said to refer to her lusty nature. In Nigeria and other African countries, a woman with diastema is considered more attractive and fertile. And the citizens of France love diastemata, calling them “lucky teeth.”
A diastema can be caused by tooth size discrepancy, oversized tissues, alignment problems, or protruding teeth. Though a diastema is considered harmless—meaning it rarely affects dental health—some dental patients want to close those smile gaps.
Some treatments dentists may use to close the diastema include:
- Orthodontics to move the teeth together and close the gap
- Customized porcelain veneers that cover the gap
- Dental bonding materials sculpted onto the teeth so the gap disappears
- Crown and bridge that uses a replacement tooth to fill in the space
- Dental implants to embed a porcelain crown into the gap