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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 which is more prone to recession or by tongue thrusting, which can push the teeth apart.
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, had been 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. This has no scientific basis, but it has been a popular assumption in folklore since the Middle Ages.
In Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria, diastema is 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 teeth"), and in Australia, gapped front teeth in children are said to be a predictor of future wealth.
Les Blank's Gap-Toothed Women is a documentary film about diastematic women.
Some well-known people noted for having diastema include country music singer Charley Pride, models Jessica Hart, Lindsey Wixson, Lauren Hutton and Lara Stone, American television news reporter and anchor Michelle Charlesworth, American football player Michael Strahan, actresses Vanessa Paradis, Eve Myles, Béatrice Dalle, Jorja Fox and Anna Paquin, actors Ernest Borgnine and Terry-Thomas, singers Madonna and Laura Pausini, singer-songwriter Elton John, rock musician Flea, rapper 50 Cent, late night show host David Letterman, comedian Paul F. Tompkins, professional wrestler and former TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode, Major League Baseball player Jimmy Rollins, Elvis Costello and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Diastema is an adjustable dental condition. This includes traditional braces, Invisalign, dental bands or direct dental bonding to make the teeth wider and thus fill up the space. One problem with orthodontic correction is relapse: There is a strong propensity for the gap to reappear after treatment. This can be addressed by bonding a permanent retainer to the inside surfaces of the teeth to prevent the diastemia from reopening.
Most species of herbivorous mammals have a diastema between the front teeth (incisors and canines), if present, and the cheek teeth (molars and premolars). This is the case, for example, for rodents and lagomorphs, as well as for most ungulates.