Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Tooth Gaps feature, in the style of Lula magazine.

A Little Space Please!





An innocent little gap between your two front teeth might not conform to the Hollywood ideal of a perfect smile that we are so used to seeing. Instead, it gives you a sweet quirky grin with which you can charm everyone you meet. The correct term for a tooth gap is 'diastema'. The distance occurs when the size of the teeth and the jaw are not proportionate, hence the idea that it is a negative trait. Some tooth gaps have been cleverly created by dentists for those who fall under the spell of the childlike look that a small space between your pearly whites creates, but the most well-known gaps are owned by those who have fought not to have it 'fixed'.

We find the child like tooth gap appealing in the same way that people tend to favour large eyes and long eyelashes. In fact, 50% of all children aged 6 – 8 have one. Psychologist Doctor Michelle Rhodes explains the allure: "For centuries we have found high appeal in youthful looks from wide open eyes, gently flushed and plump cheeks, right through to childlike gaps in our teeth. Whilst many of us are well aware of the quest for recapturing this youthful appeal, we also strive to recreate this appearance at the deepest subconscious levels. The associations we make to the more childlike looks include beauty and vitality as well as innocence. We seek to captivate and charm those around us by reclaiming those qualities that hold the seemingly magical ability to lure the attention and affection that we so desire. "

Bridgitte Bardot’s iconic beauty is sugar coated because of her adorable tooth gap, keeping her on the sweeter side of being a sex symbol. Jane Birkin claimed a thriving career sporting space between her teeth too, (as well as getting a bestselling Hermes bag named after her). Lauren Hutton is one of the world’s best known, and gap toothed models. Despite repeatedly being told to hide her gap during photo-shoots as well as endless pressure to have the space closed, she became the first model to ever win a million dollar cosmetics campaign with Rimmel, and is still going strong today aged 67. Madonna is similarly infamous for her decision to return to her original smile, proving that it cannot truly be a hindrance to success as some may suggest. The Queen of Pop even refused Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year award in 1990, after she discovered that they had previously removed her diastema in post-production for their front cover.

My own personal experience of having a diastema has not been quite so successful. Having the space measured without fail at every single dentists appointment throughout childhood, whilst being repeatedly told that it can easily be closed up 'as soon as you consider it a problem' provides the perfect recipe for a complex about your gnashers. In later years, I grew to love my unusual teeth, yet to this day, whenever I am in the chair I am reminded that all it would take to correct them is one, barely noticeable Invisilign brace.

Whilst many have grown up self-conscious of their tooth gap, there really is not a thing wrong with it, as cosmetic dentist, Dr Barry Oulton proves. “The reason some people have diastema is because the overall width of their teeth is slightly less than the arch of their bone. Some people have overcrowding in their teeth and others have over spacing. From a dental perspective there is absolutely nothing wrong with gaps, if anything it makes them easier to clean. Orthodontists can create the space; often if the person had overcrowding they opt to have the space put in the centre. When Madonna got rid of hers then had it put back in, there was a huge increase in acceptance of having one. Beauty is all about proportions. Nowadays, gaps of 1-1.5mm are generally left alone because there’s an element of youthfulness and links to the likes of Madonna. If diastema is ever ‘fixed’ it is always purely for vanity.”

Take a look at an old copy of Vogue magazine from 1968 and you will find a cover of Lauren Hutton, gap in full view. This relatively unedited representation of beauty was hard to come by after the rise of severe photo-editing took place and led to the overexposure of the typical nauseating Hollywood stereotype which determined exactly how ‘perfect’ we all should look. However, in more recent years, both Georgia May Jagger and supermodel Lara Stone have graced the cover of many fashion magazines. Both sporting a fabulous gap between their front teeth, I might add. They have been heralded as having paved the way for a return towards more natural, individual beauty which has been welcomed and embraced, opening the doors for more quirky gap toothed new faces such as Ashley Smith and Jessica Hart. What is often strangely overlooked is that the likes of Kate Moss and Stephanie Seymour had in fact both begun their wildly successful modeling careers prior to this, but then their tooth gaps are far smaller in comparison. "At first I thought models with gap teeth were a bit weird and quirky looking. But as I've seen more and more ad campaigns using models with this look, I've grown to love it. My favourite model with gap teeth is Lara Stone," says Kate Williamson, fashion press officer at Fluorescent PR.

If you’ve got interesting features, you’ve got to learn to love what you’ve got. As Hannah Louise Serjeant, MAC makeup artist reiterates: 'In the industry of the fashion model, the ones that make it are the ones who have a look that is different and unique. Top fashion designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Marc Jacobs always use models that look different and unique. If a model has an unusual trait, they should use it to their advantage; a gap in the teeth for example may end up being the main reason why the model is booked, or flame red hair. It is something that makes them individual and stand out from the masses of models out there. As a makeup artist if I was doing an editorial shoot I would look for a model who has a unique look and individual quirks are very important when casting for a model. Embrace your individuality!'

It is not solely the fashion world which has been graced with gap toothed icons. Our small screens have also seen actresses Elisabeth Moss and Anna Paquin in hit TV shows “Mad Men” and “True Blood” respectively. Neither are tooth gaps exclusively for the female sex. Begin to research famous gap toothed personalities and you will reveal the likes of Elton John, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Letterman and Elijah Wood too. Diastema has featured in literature also. Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales include that of the Wife of Bath, who was proudly gap toothed herself. "He was, I think, but twenty winters old, And I was forty, if I tell the truth; But then I always had a young colt's tooth. Gap-toothed I was, and that became me well". The dental imperfection has always had a youthful look, but in the middle ages used to be considered a sign that the person would travel; as their teeth had done likewise.

Having suffered through many painful years of having to grow into my teeth in the same way that others may have grown in to their noses, there is no chance that I will ever let this space be closed. No longer even overprotective of my childhood photographs, like the beauties that now grace the media, I now consider it perfectly reasonable to require a little space between my two front teeth. Mind the gap please.

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