What is a Gummy Smile?
Dental professionals refer to gummy smiles as “excessive gingival displays,” where gingival is another word for things relating to the gums. Gingival tissue lines your mouth and surrounds your teeth to provide a tight seal.
While most gummy smiles are esthetic in nature, excessive gingival displays resulting from underlying conditions may need additional dental care before the gummy smile can be resolved. If your gummy smile is the result of abnormal tooth eruption or jaw developmental problem, for example, you might also have an improper bite.
A gummy smile does not usually affect your ability to eat or talk, however, but it may have a negative effect on the appearance of your smile. If you are like many people with a gummy smile, you feel your smile is unattractive and are sometimes reluctant to smile at all. Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available to fix a gummy smile.
When you smile, do you feel the appearance of your upper teeth is overshadowed by excessive gum tissue? Are you of the opinion that your upper teeth appear too short compared to the amount of gingival tissue displayed when you smile? If you answered “yes” to either of those queries, you’ll have a condition that’s ordinarily referred to as a “gummy smile” or excessive animal tissue show.
The gummy smile will have a negative have an effect on the aesthetics of your smile. the great news is that a gluey smile is often corrected through varied treatment choices.
Do I have a gummy smile?
You may be diagnosed with a gummy smile if you have more than a couple millimeters of exposed gingiva—the gum tissue between your teeth and upper lip. This condition is also called “gingival excess” or “exacerbated gingival display.”
Why do some people have gummy smiles?
Gummy smiles are tied to your genetics, and they are more common in women than men.
A gummy smile may be caused by:
- Excessive gum tissue
- A short upper lip or hyperactive muscles in the lip that raise higher than normal
- Excessive bulging of the upper jaw
- Other abnormal structural conditions
Causes of the Gummy smile
A high lip line is one of the most common causes of a gummy smile. Having a high lip line means your upper lip moves higher when you smile as compared with other people. An average lip line shows only the teeth in your upper jaw and the bits of gum that extend upwards between your teeth. A high lip line, in comparison, shows your upper teeth and a substantial amount of gingival tissue.
There are other causes of a gummy smile. Problems occurring when permanent teeth erupt or come out through the gum tissue to fill the empty spot left behind by primary teeth, commonly known as “baby teeth.” An abnormal eruption of teeth can cause excessive gum tissue to develop around the newly erupted teeth, making the teeth look short even though they are the proper length.
A muscle problem may cause a gummy smile. The muscle the controls your upper lip may be hyperactive, which causes your upper lip to rise higher than normal when you smile. Improper growth and development of your upper jawbone can cause a gummy smile. An excessive bulge protruding from your upper jaw may push your gum tissue downward over your teeth.
- An excessive display of gum tissue in your upper jaw can result from the abnormal eruption of the teeth. Teeth covered by excessive gum tissue appear short, even though they may actually be the proper length.
- The muscle that controls the movement of your upper lip could be hyperactive, causing your upper lip to rise up higher than normal. When this occurs, more of your gum tissue is exposed when you smile.
- The manner in which your upper jaw bone grew and developed could cause the appearance of a gummy smile. For instance, if there was an excessive bulging protrusion of the upper jaw within the gum tissue, you would experience an obvious gummy appearance when you smile.
An Esthetic Problem or Something More of a gummy smile?
The smile line or esthetic zone – the teeth that are showing when you are smiling – is determined by several factors, including:
- The shape and size of your lips.
- Your facial muscles.
- The shape and size of your teeth.
- Your gum tissue.
The optimal smile line appearance should reveal the least amount of gum tissue possible. Gum tissue visible in the smile line should have balanced, even contours that are in harmony with the upper lip. It is for this reason that many people with a gummy smile or excessive gingival display feel their smile to be unattractive, oftentimes feeling reluctant to smile at all.
However, more serious underlying dental conditions could be present. For example, if you have a gummy smile caused as a result of how the teeth erupted and how the jaw developed, you may also have an uncomfortable or improper bite that could ultimately affect your long-term oral health.
How to Determine the Smile Line
Several factors determine the most visually appealing esthetic zone, or smile line, for you. An aesthetic zone is the teeth that are showing when you smile. The size and shape of your lips and your lips, your facial muscles and your gum tissue all contribute to your optimal smile line, which reveals as little gum tissue as possible. For the most aesthetically appealing smile line possible, visible gum tissue should feature balanced, even contours that complement your upper lip.
Gummy Smile Treatment
Your dentist can confirm that you have a gummy smile, determine the cause of your excessive gingival display, and create a personalized gummy smile treatment plan to help you fix a gummy smile. Your appointment will include an examination and may involve x-ray imaging to get a closer look at your teeth and jawbone. Your dentist may create impressions of your teeth and gums.
Dentists can provide treatment for many types of gummy smiles. Periodontists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons can perform an advanced gummy smile procedure for severely excessive gingival displays. Depending on the nature of your gummy smile, treatment for your gummy smile may include:
- Laser periodontal treatments
- Surgical lip repositioning
- Orthodontic gummy smile braces to move the teeth into better positions
- Gummy smile surgery to sculpt and contour the gingival tissues and bone
- Maxillofacial surgery to reposition the bone
Each of these treatments, known as crown lengthening procedures, reduces the appearance of gum tissue to make the white crowns of your teeth more visible when you smile.
Your dentist may refer you to a specialist, like a periodontist, orthodontist or an oral surgeon. Depending on the nature of your specific clinical condition, treatment could include one or more of the following:
- Same-day laser treatments (in minor cases).
- Surgical lip repositioning.
- Orthodontics (braces) to move the teeth into more suitable positions.
- Surgical Sculpting of the gingival tissues and bone to create healthier and more attractive looking gum contours.
- Maxillofacial surgery to reposition the bone.
For example, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, a periodontist – a dentist specializing in the gums, soft tissues and other structures supporting the teeth – can perform a “crown lengthening” procedure to correct the appearance of a gummy smile. During this procedure, the periodontist will remove the excess gum tissue – and possibly bone – in order to expose more of the tooth’s surface. This Surgical Sculpting procedure can be performed on one or more teeth to create an even gum line or a more natural looking smile.
As a result, gummy smile sufferers see more of their teeth when they smile and less of their gums.
The American Academy of Periodontology states that the benefits of crown lengthening procedures include increased comfort and confidence when smiling, eating and speaking, as well as improved periodontal (gum tissue) health.
5 WAYS TO FIX A GUMMY SMILE
IF YOUR GUMMY SMILE IS DUE TO AN OVER-ACTIVE UPPER LIP:
LIP REPOSITIONING SURGERY
The lip is cut from the inside and stitched closer to the teeth so the lip cannot retract as much. (Ouch.)
BOTOX THE UPPER LIP
Luckily, nowadays, it’s easier to get that stiff upper lip. No need to smile in a certain way or stifle your laughter! You can just get that upper lip botox! Only thing is, Botox wears out after a few months and you will need to get another botox injection to keep that lip in its place.
IF YOUR GUMMY SMILE IS DUE TO EXCESSIVE GUMS:
LASER OR SCALPEL GUM GINGIVECTOMY
Your periodontist can trim your excessive gums using a laser or a scalpel. It’s a very comfortable procedure and the results are immediate. Be warned though. If there is still too much bone underneath the gums in some patients, the gums will regrow back to its original position and the gingivectomy procedure will have to be repeated a few months later. Much like botox.
CROWN LENGTHENING WITH OSSEOUS SURGERY
This procedure basically means having your gums and bone trimmed to lengthen your teeth permanently. Some patients have an excessive bone which causes excessive gums to form. So when we trim that bone away together with the gums, the final look is, well… final! You get nicely shaped teeth and fewer gums without having to repeat any procedures.
IF YOUR GUMMY SMILE IS DUE TO A LONG MID-FACE:
VERTICAL MAXILLARY IMPACTION
The surgeon will need to embark on corrective jaw surgery, where the whole upper jaw is repositioned upwards. Needless to say, this procedure is much more invasive and you will need much more time to heal!
Three Traditional Methods for Treating a Gummy Smile
Orthodontics: Intrudes over erupted teeth and levels them to correct position so that it eliminates gingival display.
Periodontal surgery: Crown lengthening to move gingival levels apically, typically performed on short teeth.
Orthognathic surgery: Moves the maxilla in an apical direction impacting the maxilla.
For instances when these traditional methods of treatment won’t work, such as a patient has a hypermobile lip, there are a couple of non-traditional methods:
Botox: Studies suggest Botox, when injected into the muscles of the upper lip can to be an effective method; however, the improvement is temporary and must be repeated every three to six months.
Lip repositioning surgery: Severs the muscles that elevate the lip so it can no longer rise as far as a smile. An irreversible solution diagnosis is a key to a successful outcome.