Space between the two front teeth
Anatomical terminology

A diastema (pl.: diastemata, from Greek διάστημα, 'space') 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. More colloquially, the condition may be referred to as gap teeth or tooth gap.

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. Diastemata are common for children and can exist in adult teeth as well.

In humans


1. Oversized Labial Frenulum: 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.

2. Periodontal Disease: Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, can result in bone loss that supports the teeth. If a person loses enough bone, the teeth can become loose and cause gaps to form.

3. Mesiodens: Mesiodens is an extra tooth that grows behind the front teeth. A mesiodens may push the front teeth apart to make room for itself thus creating a gap between the front teeth.

4. Skeletal discrepancy: Dental skeletal discrepancy can be a cause behind gap teeth. If the upper jaw grows more than the lower jaw, teeth on the upper jaw will have more space to cover thus leaving gaps between them.

5. Proclination: If the front teeth are angled forward, a small gap between them may appear large. This is called proclination; it may be a result of aggressive tongue thrusting.


1. Determine 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, or composite fillings, or a combination of veneers or crowns.

Historical and popular culture references

In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote of the "gap-toothed wife of Bath". As early as this time period, the gap between the front teeth, especially in women, was associated with lustful characteristics. Thus, the implication in describing "the gap-toothed wife of Bath" is that she is a middle-aged woman with insatiable lust.

In Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria, as well as throughout many communities in Kenya, diastemata are regarded as being attractive and a sign of fertility, and some people have even had them created through cosmetic dentistry. In France, they are called "dents du bonheur" ("lucky/happiness teeth"). 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.

Famous people

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

This page was last updated at 2024-04-18 12:33 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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