Lateral Diastemas Have a Negative Impact on Smile Esthetics

The greater the space and the more mesially located the lateral spacing was, the more unattractive the smile.

Background: Facial esthetics and the attractiveness of a smile are of great interest to clinicians. Previous research has described the negative impact of having a maxillary midline diastema on perceived esthetics.

Objective: To evaluate the perception of smile esthetics among laypeople and orthodontists as affected by the presence of diastemas in the maxillary lateral incisors using an oblique smile analysis.

Methods: The study used 2 standardized oblique smiling photos from 2 female subjects. One subject had been treated with extractions and one without extractions, and both were considered to have attractive smiles. The photographs were digitally altered to create interproximal spaces in the lateral incisor. Space were generated in 0.5mm increments and were located in the mesial, distal, or both surfaces. The final images were randomly assembled and given to 120 judges for evaluation. Sixty of the judges were orthodontists and 60 were laypersons. The judges were asked to assess the attractiveness of the images on a visual analog scale.

Results: the judges rated the images without lateral spacing as the most attractive smiles. both groups rated the presence of diastemas as unattractive. they found that the greater the space and the more mesially located the lateral spacing was, the more unattractive was the smile rating.

Conclusions: This study suggested that spacing in the upper lateral incisor area is a factor in smile attractiveness. The larger and the more mesially located a lateral diastema, the more unattractive was the smile assessment.

Reviewer's Comments: This was an interesting article in that the focus was on the esthetics of lateral spacing rather than the more commonly studied midline diastema. Both laypersons' and orthodontists' perceptions of the lateral spacing were quite similar; the larger the space and the closer to the maxillary midline the less attractive the smile. For the layperson group, a 0.5mm space distal to the lateral was not rated as unattractive. thus, if it is not necessary to leave some space in the maxillary anterior arch, this study supports leaving the space distal to the laterals. There were no differences found between the extraction smile photos and the non extraction smile photos. (Reviewer-John S. Kanyusik, DDS, MSD)

2014 Oakstone Publishing, LLC