Fashion trends, as we all know, come and go and then come back again. It’s part of what keeps the fashion world front and center in our attention. It is also what adds to the reinvention of styles from the past that we have fallen in love with: Victorian lace up boots, shoulder pads in those boxy yet impeccably styled 1940’s women’s business suits, 1960’s mini dresses, bell bottoms, and more. All of these have seen a resurgence time and again. But every blue moon or so we get a surprise from the world of fashion that has not occurred in the consciousness of the mainstream media. We have just such an occasion now.

Gap-toothed smiles are in.

gap toothed smile
Georgia May Jagger

When And How Did This Happen?

This unique and quirky trait became the hot trend around the time of New York Fashion Week in 2010. According to a Wall Street Journal article on celebrities flaunting gap-toothed smiles, transforming the typical look of models is one tactic of gaining fresh attention.

The savvy W magazine presented a total of three up and coming fresh faces with this stand out feature; Georgia May Jagger (Mick’s daughter), Lara Stone and Lindsey Wixson. Each of these ladies has gone on to very successful modeling careers. Wixson was featured in a Miu Miu marketing campaign, Stone found high exposure with a Calvin Klein advertisement and Jagger appears in the new ads for Hudson jeans.

The modeling industry has received much flack for promoting impossible physical standards for the average person to attain. There have been trends from tall “glamazon” models like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell to skinny and waifish types such as Kate Moss. Recently, the look du jour finally became more realistic, representing a fit and shapely frame. This was coincidentally around the time that Lara Stone, who is said to be a size six, became popular. Stone is also now commonly recognized for making popular the gap-toothed smile.

The Charm Of The Gap-Toothed Grin

There is also the interesting look of a gap-toothed grin; it makes you look twice at a person who has one. It allows for the subjects’ true beauty and individuality to come through. This dynamic characteristic must finally appeal to the beauty industry as it has to some people for a long time.

For instance, according to a Ghanaian journalist and Gates Fellow of African Agriculture at the University of California-Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, Bernice Agyekwena, in three African countries, Namibia, Nigeria and Ghana a gap (or diastema, the clinical name) in female’s teeth is a sign of an attractive and fertile woman. She mentions that some women will even create a synthetic gap in their teeth to sustain the customary model for African beauty.

In the Western hemisphere as far back as the Middle Ages, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote of the gap-toothed wife of Bath in “The Canterbury Tales,” insinuating the character’s insatiable lust with that description.

The new interest in this charming trait is believed to be an adverse reaction to the impossible beauty ideals of the fashion machine. Heather Muir, beauty news editor of Allure magazine, notes the “cookie cutter” look of beauty no longer stands out and we are moving to a more “quirky” beauty.

Clinically Speaking – Intentional Gaps?

Walnut Creek dentist and assistant clinical professor at the University of California-San Francisco’s School of Dentistry Tim Patel says there is no benefit to joining the gap from a clinical point of view. He states that he clearly likes to see completely straight teeth with no diastema.

“But if patients like it, I certainly don’t try to encourage them to change it. By and large, it’s an aesthetic issue.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that after the death of his father, fashion designer David Delvin got an intentional diastema between his teeth, explaining it was a metaphor for the separation he was feeling.

The Journal of Clinical Orthodontics shows that a tongue stud can cause a gap-toothed smile. It would be interesting to know how many professional dentists and students graduating from dental assistant schools have seen this phenomenon.

Described in the journal from a case study at the University Of Buffalo School Of Dental Medicine, one young lady formed a space between her front teeth by toying with her tongue piercing. The girl produced a considerable gap between her upper teeth by lodging the narrow part of a barbell shaped stud in the middle of the teeth and twisting it around over seven years’ time.

Dr. Sawsan Tabbaa an assistant professor of orthodontics at the University of Buffalo says, “It is a basic tenet of orthodontia that force, over time, moves teeth.”

So whether by genes or intention, if you are one of the distinctive looking people that sport a gap-toothed grin, smile big because this is your day!

Steven Ellis who is a freelance writer focusing on education, health care, tech and business. Connect with Steven on Twitter @stvnlls