Thursday, June 29, 2006

It goes without saying

I just found out that what I have is a diastema. And that it actually is considered very lucky. Growing up, I would have never thought so as it was just one more thing that made me different from other kids. It even made learning to whistle all that more difficult. Although, in the 5th grade, I did learn to spit water through it.

Diastema, alternately spelled "diasthema", is a slight gap or space between two teeth. The Greek-derived term is most commonly used to describe open spaces between the upper incisors (front teeth). It happens when there is an unequal relationship between the size of the teeth and the jaw. Many species of animal have diastemas as a normal feature, for example the gap beteen molars and incisors in rodents.

About one in 10 people have a naturally occurring gap or space between their front teeth large enough to see through. Diastema is sometimes caused by the pulling action of a upper labial frenulum (the weird piece of skin between your gums and the lip) (OF THE MOUTH) which can push the teeth apart.

Normally, the frenulum should recede as the jaw grows, allowing eye teeth, which come in between the ages of nine and 11, to push the front teeth together and close the gap. There's a hereditary link involved in why this doesn't happen with some people, but it's unknown how prevalent that is.

Some famous diastemics are Condoleezza Rice, Elijah Wood, Sir Elton John, Samuel L. Jackson, David Letterman, Willem Dafoe, Jorja Fox, Madonna, Lauren Hutton, Oliver Stone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maya Angelou, Alfred E. Neuman, Esther Rolle, Willie Nelson and Eddie Murphy.

Les Blank's Gap-Toothed Women (1987) is a documentary film about diastematic women which he made because he "secretly wondered about women with gapped teeth...(he'd) wonder if they were more vibrant and exuberant." And Gap-toothed is a popular online humor magazine and source of merchandise and "other crap for sale" devoted to diastematics.

Surprisingly enough, or perhaps it's not surprising, there are websites and groups dedicated to the promotion of the diastema. Tribe - Diastema has an online community of gap-toothed supporters as does Lucky Gap.

While Americans tend to have cosmetic dentistry or use orthodontia to close the cap, many other cultures welcome having a space between their teeth. It turns out that gapped teeth are taken as a sign of luck, lechery, or wanderlust, depending on whom you ask.

There were several tribes in Africa in which the kings would not let their oldest son marry a woman who didn't have a gap in her teeth. For them the gap is a sign of fertility. A gap in your teeth is "the sign of Venus - the goddess of love!" some say.

Being gap-toothed was regarded as a sign of a strongly-sexed nature in the Middle Ages as demonstrated through The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale from "The Canterbury Tales" of Geoffrey Chaucer. as noted in Studying the Wife of Bath's Tale: "Her 'gat-tothed' appearance, then as now, is seen as an indication of sexual energy."

In France it's referred to as "dents de la chance" or "lucky teeth" as well as "dents de bonheur" or "teeth of happiness". And according to xiang mian, the Chinese version of face reading to tell ones fortune and future, it means:
" are a risk taker and a dare devil. But you have a habit of changing your mind because you lack a clear sense of direction."

While Ghanaians consider the gap a sign of beauty, the ancient Egyptians, for their part, thought that the moon would shine through the toothgap and onto their vocal chords, making them "sing like beautiful birds."

A jengu, or water spirit and deity in the traditional beliefs of the Sawa ethnic groups of Cameroon, is claimed to be beautiful while sporting gap-toothed smile.

While some people may think that the catastrophic events that have occurred throughout my life and especially those since 8/29/05 would be "unlucky", the fact that I've survived them, and done so with my sanity and sense of humor intact just goes to show how truly lucky I am.

And we'll see how the theory really works, because I'm investigating having a bit of cosmetic dentistry myself. Because, personally, I don't find that gap all that attractive. I find the spaces very distracting as I tend to observe the linguistic functions of others and tend to completely tune out what the other person is saying. Especially in the event of a speech impediment or other.....


Diastemic Haiku
The gap in her teeth
reminded him of cleavage.
He bought her a drink.
by Becky


  • At 1:37 PM, Blogger arfaoui ghofrane said…

    i really appriceate this amazing article .. but i still have probleme with my gap it makes me too different and i naver feel comfortable enough to smile in front of people i never feel pretty wich took all of my confidence away ....
    otherwise this was an amzingly amazing article to prove me wrong !! <3

  • At 9:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I work at a doctors office and a patient was telling me that there was an African tribe that had gap teeth. Here the information is. I've always loved my lil gap between my teeth. Never wanted to close it. I love being different. Wouldn't change myself for this cruel world. Love yourself and someone will love you as well.


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