Mom’s words: “If you open something, learn to close it!”
I wish this statement applied to the gap I have in my teeth or as it is technically known as midline diastema. It always seems to photobomb my pictures and be the “centre of my attention.” I’ve even mastered a pose and take pictures on my good side to try hide it.
You see gaps are normally hereditary, which left me feeling adopted for many of my younger years as everyone’s teeth in my family were perfectly straight. I later learnt that they were perfectly false too.
I only remembered that my dental separation must have happened when this ambitious black girl, swam in a relay team and knocked the latter part of her incisors out. This ambitious girl is me.
I then went to the orthodontist (who along with society) found that my teeth were in a bad state and needed to be fixed. Of course braces were a big trend and it was surprisingly “cool” to have them at that time. Today they are more like a stage of puberty that even those gifted with proper bites and straight teeth have to go through.
The orthodontist told me I’d have to remove four of my molars to make way for my soon to be straight teeth. I swear he was talking about a car trying to fit in my gap. Needless to say, I never went back.
It was in my university years that I met a friend by the name of Tara, who told me that people with a gap in between their teeth are going to be successful. I laughed at this statement but took it upon myself to Google successful people with gaps in their teeth.
In a South African context, I found the likes of Anele Mdoda, Ashley Hayden, and Azania.
Internationally, there was Madonna, Jorja Fox, Anna Paquin but to name a few who collectively seem to be bubbly and confident, attributes I also seem to hold. I call it the Gaptooth Connection.
I’ve thought about veneers, inserting the gold “L” shapes, having a bigger crown interleaved but quickly got back to my senses. How many people do you know can whistle through their dental anatomies and fit tablespoons in their teeth? I can.
My imagination and jovial nature has taught me to use my gap as a tool rather than a self-esteem issue. If I want to be a Communicator, many words will flow from my gap. I have to learn to embrace it (that’s if I’m too scared to fix it).
This also made me realize that my insecurity of a paltry dental malfunction could be the trademark of which cartoonists can caricaturize when I’m successful, as Tara suggests.
To me it may be teeth; to you it could be your legs, muffin top, arms or a stutter. One thing we should all learn is that everyone is flawed, but that flaw need not define you or stop you from making things happen for yourself.
My teeth aren’t my most favourite body feature but at least my dental floss goes a little further.