On my mind is the naturally air-cooled, life-enriching, prominent gap between my front upper teeth, which some call the ‘Gap tooth’.
Medical doctors refer to this gap between the front two maxillary or upper incisors as Diastema; they say that it is usually hereditary, it can run in families, and it exists in 20-30% of the population.
Astrologers view more gap between the teeth as a sign of good-luck; they say that people with gap in between their front teeth are highly intelligent and creative.
My mind cannot, however, fail to note that gapped teeth are treasured and have mega meanings in many places around the world. In the Caribbean gap teeth are associated with sexual allure; they believe that gap-teethed women are supposedly sexier. Men in the Caribbean Islandes want the gap opened because they believe having a gap between the teeth is a real sign of sexual masculinity.
In many parts of Africa, tooth gaps symbolize beauty and luck. West Africans reckon that a gap tooth signifies wealth. The French nickname for teeth with a space in between is “dents du bonheur,” which literally translates to “lucky teeth.”
My mind, therefore, seems to agree that gap teeth exist in the spaces of good-fortune, power and beauty, considering the many models, celebrities and other greats who possess the generous air-filled spaces between their canines. These are exemplified by gospel musicians Jemimah Thiong’o, Christina Shusho, and Sarah Kiarie; Presidents John Magufuli, Uhuru Kenyatta and Jomo Kenyatta; secular musicians François Luambo Luanzo Makiadi and Kanda Bongo Man; and, corporate CEO nominee of Safaricom Peter Ndegwa.
Other examples are TV anchors Victoria Rubadiri, Carol Radull; actresses/Actors Uzo Aduba, Samuel L. Jackson and Anna Paquin; singers/song-writers Willem Dafoe, Mac Demarco and Vanessa Paradis; and fashion models Lara Stone, Lindsey Wixson, Lauren Hutton, Jessica Hart and Dani Evans.
And the list goes on: lawyers Prof. P.L.O. Lumumba and Githu Muigai; Intellectuals Prof. George Magoha and Prof. Calestous Juma (late); former police Inspector General Joseph Boinett; and, politicians Cyrus Jirongo, Koigi Wamwere, Mike Sonko Mbuvi, Josphat Nanok, Jackson Mandago, Kiraitu Murungi, Onesimus Kipchumba Murkomen and Stacey Abrams.
It is not uncommon to hear the gap-less lusting over that beautiful gap to the extent of deliberately chipping their teeth to get a gap. Conversely, there are those who don’t like the way the gap looks and will go to any length to close it or reduce its size by wearing braces, veneers or dental bridges; with some even undertaking cosmetic surgery.
My mind would like to mind its own business, but it knows that ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, and that today, gap teeth are seen as something alluring and attractive.
One other advantage of my gap tooth aka mwanya, thenya, or jarûmi is that I am less likely to get food stuck between the front teeth. There’s nowhere for that tiny annoying piece of African sausage aka mûtûra to nestle.
All factors considered, therefore, my mind knows that I owe my intriguing handsomeness to my diastema; and I will continue to celebrate, and to be dedicated to, flaunting it in all its glory; forever counting that I was blessed with a natural tooth gap, and I will keep smiling. But do I say?
It doesn’t matter how many times or how loud the words of any contrary opinion echo between the space. For me, like many other Africans, a gap-tooth is the epitome of beauty. And because a gappy tooth smile is magical and is said to be a force that draws people in, I hope that my smile will make those around me to smile too; when I smile through my gap-tooth.