New AACD Poll Explores Whether Gap-Toothed Smiles are a Hollywood Fad or Confidence Killer

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Outside of Hollywood, it’s highly unusual for people to appreciate and want to keep the gaps between teeth (known as diastemas). AACD cosmetic dentists say that patients with prominent gaps report feelings of lower self-confidence.

AACD diastema image

A patient before and after treating her gap

I have yet to hear ‘I love my gap and wouldn’t change it’ because most people don’t want to be known or defined by their diastema.

It’s part of True Blood star Anna Paquin’s sex appeal and, until recently, it was in ‘vogue’ for Madonna. Some celebrities see the gap between their front teeth as part of their own unique style. According to a new American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) Facebook fan poll, the following celebrities are most often recalled for their signature gap-toothed smiles.

1. Lauren Hutton
2. Madonna
3. Michael Strahan
4. Vanessa Paradis
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger

But outside of Hollywood, it’s highly unusual for people to appreciate and want to keep tooth gaps (known as diastemas), according to AACD cosmetic dentists who say that patients coming into their offices with prominent teeth gaps report feelings of lower self-confidence.

Dr. Kellee Kattleman Stanton, an American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) dentist with George Dental Group in Minnesota said, “I have yet to hear ‘I love my gap and wouldn’t change it’ because most people don’t want to be known or defined by their diastema.”

However, filling or closing a gap is determined by many factors, according to Dr. Jack Ringer, AACD president elect from Anaheim, California. “We look at how old the patient is, what their expectations are, and what therapy they are willing to undergo,” he says. “If feasible, orthodontics to move the teeth to close the space is often the ideal therapy. Ringer notes that if the patient is not a candidate for orthodontics, then high-tech materials—such as bonding resin or veneers--would be used to close the space.” He adds that overall, facial symmetry and harmony are compromised by prominent tooth gaps. That’s because healthy, proportional teeth properly positioned in the dental arch are designed to be in contact with one another without having any spaces.

Dr. Marty Zase, an AACD Accredited member from Colchester, Connecticut, added, “Diastemas result in a less attractive smile since the dark space between the teeth breaks up the ‘white’ look of the smile.”

A Facebook poll by the AACD suggested that—while 87% of respondents believe that fixing the gap should depend on the person or the size of the gap—Dr. Peter Auster, an AACD member who practices near New York City, has found potential negative affects if a diastema is left untreated. “Teeth that don’t contact adjacent teeth tend to have less support without those surrounding teeth, thus they are more prone to becoming mobile and lost with time.”

Dr. Ron Goodlin, AACD president from Ontario, Canada, summarizes the impact of living with a large tooth gap. “Studies have shown that the vast majority of people create an opinion of a person based on their appearance within the first few moments of meeting them. When 100 people at a mall were shown a photo of someone with a gap in their smile compared to someone without, and asked to describe that person, they most often described this person as being of a lower socio-economic status, not as smart, and not as attractive.”

About the AACD

The AACD is the world’s largest non-profit member organization dedicated to advancing excellence in comprehensive oral care that combines art and science to optimally improve dental health, esthetics, and function. Comprised of more than 6,800 cosmetic dental professionals in 70 countries worldwide, the AACD fulfills its mission by offering superior educational opportunities, promoting and supporting a respected Accreditation credential, serving as a user-friendly and inviting forum for the creative exchange of knowledge and ideas, and providing accurate and useful information to the public and the profession. Visit

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Michael DiFrisco

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