diastema (daɪəˈstiːmə) is a medical term for an abnormal space, fissure, or cleft in a bodily organ or part; a gap between the teeth.
A diastema can be caused by structural abnormalities, tongue thrusting, lip biting or missing teeth.
There is much to be said about a gap-toothed grin. It is the basis of folklore that dates back to the Middle Ages. Chaucer wrote of the "gap toothed wife of Bath" in the "The Canterbury Tales" whose gap was believed to be the basis of her insatiable lust. It has also been said that a gap in the teeth is the sign of Venus, the "goddess of love".
In some African cultures, diastema is regarded as being attractive, and a sign of fertility and wisdom. Some people have even had them created through cosmetic dentistry to enhance their appearance or to perhaps construct what some in France would say are "dents du bonheur" ("lucky teeth"). Others have considered it a deformity that needs to be removed because they find it unappealing.
Diastema occurs more often in females than males. Black people have a higher incidence of diastema compared to other cultures. There are many famous African Americans who have them -
Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Strahan, Condeleeza Rice, Eddie Murphy, & Morgan Freeman to name a few.
What is the aesthetic relationship between culture, age, ethnicity, sex and a gap-toothed grin?
This project seeks to explore this question, and the issue of beauty and identity as it relates to having gapped teeth. Do those of us who have inherited this imperfection seek to change it or do we choose to embrace it as something that makes us unique? What does a diastema mean in a culture where beauty is narrowly defined and perfectly conceived?
More photos can be seen in The Diastema Project Gallery - http://sepiaqueenphotography.zenfolio.com/p958381219