A diastema (plural diastemata) is a space or gap between two teeth. Many species of mammals have diastemata as a normal feature, most commonly between the incisors and molars. Diastemata are common for children and can exist in adult teeth as well. Diastemata are primarily caused by imbalance in the relationship between the jaw and the size of the teeth.

Brian diastema.png
A person with space between the two front teeth
Anatomical terminology

In humansEdit

In humans, the term is most commonly applied to an open space between the upper incisors (front teeth). It happens when there is an unequal relationship between the size of the teeth and the jaw. Diastema is sometimes caused or exacerbated by the action of a labial frenulum (the tissue connecting the lip to the gum), causing high mucosal attachment and less attached keratinized tissue. This is more prone to recession or by tongue thrusting, which can push the teeth apart.[1]


1. Determining the cause of the diastema, then treat the cause.

2. Diastema treatment options can differ from one patient to another, but generally it is treated by orthodontics,[2] or composite fillings, or a combination of veneers or crowns.

Historical and popular culture referencesEdit

In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote of the "gap-toothed wife of Bath".[3] As early as this time period, the gap between the front teeth, especially in women, was associated with lustful characteristics.[4] Thus, the implication in describing "the gap-toothed wife of Bath" is that she is a middle-aged woman with insatiable lust.[4] This has no scientific basis, but it has been a common premise in folklore since the Middle Ages.[citation needed]

In Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria, diastemata are regarded as being attractive and a sign of fertility, and some people have even had them created through cosmetic dentistry.[5] In France, they are called "dents du bonheur" ("lucky/happiness teeth").[6] This expression originated in Napoleon's time: when the Napoleonic army recruited, it was imperative that soldiers had incisors in perfect condition because they had to open the paper cartridges (containing powder and ball) with their teeth when loading their muskets. All those who had teeth apart were then classified as unfit to fight. Some men broke their own teeth to avoid going to war.[citation needed] Les Blank's Gap-Toothed Women (1987) is a 30 minute documentary film about diastematic women.[7]

Famous peopleEdit

Actor Terry-Thomas was known for his 1⁄3-inch (8.5 mm) diastema.

Some well-known people noted for having diastema include:

Large diastemata between incisors, canines and molars of a normal horse


  1. ^ "Diastema or Gaps Between Teeth: Causes and Solutions". Orthodontics Australia. 2020-06-29. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  2. ^ Wheeler, Bryan; K. Carrico, Caroline; Shroff, Bhavna; Brickhouse, Tegman; Laskin, Daniel (2017-11-01). "Management of the Maxillary Diastema by Various Dental Specialties". Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 76 (4): 709–715. doi:10.1016/j.joms.2017.11.024. PMID 29245001.
  3. ^ a b Rachel Dodes (September 8, 2010). "We Don't Mind the Gap: The Fashionable Flash a New Smile". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  4. ^ a b c d Garmaise, Ariella (2018-04-04). "Gap-Toothed Women". The McGill Tribune. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  5. ^ a b "Midline diastemata in fashion". Bite magazine website. October 14, 2010. Archived from the original on April 20, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2010.
  6. ^ McGuiness, Romina (December 8, 2010). "The year of the gap-tooth trend". Metro. Archived from the original on March 8, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  7. ^ Canby, Vincent (1987-09-16). "Film: 'Gap-Toothed Women,' 'Miss . . . or Myth?'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  8. ^ Gary Hill. "Steve Howe". AllMusic. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Gap-Toothed Women Movie Review (1988)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  10. ^ "Diastema (dentistry)". Factualworld. Retrieved 3 Apr 2014.