The diastema: the perfect imperfection

In dentistry, a diastema is known as a gap between teeth and, although it can be found between any pair of teeth, it is between the upper incisors where this phenomenon is the most talked about.

From Vélez and Lozano we would like to explain the consequences of this phenomenon. Its causes are varied and the gap can be due to the size of the teeth, the lack of some, or problems related to a very large frenulum. However, what few people expected is that what for years was treated as a pathology by dentists would gradually become an aesthetic revolution.

Even today, a multitude of treatments are offered to eliminate this gap, for many an aesthetic ordeal, which must be treated with orthodontics in the majority of cases. But what is truly unexpected is that in recent years a reverse trend has appeared: many people visit their dentist's surgery asking for this gap to be artificially 'created'.

A new phenomenon?

As almost always, history has something to tell us about this phenomenon. Many point to music stars of three decades ago, such as Madonna and Vanessa Paradis, while many point to the younger generation, such as supermodel Lindsay Wixson and Mick Jagger's daughter Georgia May Jagger, as the true forerunners of the diastema craze.


However, digging deeper, we quickly realise that the 'sexy' implications of this perfect imperfection go back much further than the pop stars of the 1980s. No less than the Canterbury Tales, written in the 15th century, already drew some connection between women with this physical trait and their supposed propensity for lust. On the other hand, in countries as unsuperstitious as France they call this type of smile 'dents du bonheur', something like teeth of happiness, the smile still worn today by the spectacular Gallic actress Brigitte Bardot.


In some African countries this fashion is not new; for years this separation of the incisors has been considered a sign of fertility among women. This fact has made Africa the continent with the highest number of aesthetic interventions per year to artificially produce this separation between the teeth.

Is diastema healthy?

While a natural diastema does not necessarily pose a serious problem for oral health, the artificial creation of this separation can have undesirable consequences that are not as pleasant as many believe.

Dentists' associations around the world warn of the negative consequences for the oral health of people who decide to have their teeth artificially separated. Commonly associated problems include ear, neck and jaw pain, tooth decay and even speech problems.

Some of these problems are associated with a change for the worse in the bite, while others have to do with the new separation between the teeth, which allows food debris to lodge more easily, leading to an increase in the bacteria responsible for most of the problems in our mouth.