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Can You Correct a Gummy Smile?

Author: mcymer Posted: December 13th, 2019 Category:

Don’t let a gummy smile get in the way of your self-confidence. Depending on the root cause, there are several corrective options available for a gummy smile. 

Not liking your smile can have a serious negative impact on your overall self-confidence. People who are self-conscious about their smiles will often try to cover their mouths when they laugh or smile without showing their teeth. This is particularly true of people who worry about having gummy smiles — smiles that show too much of their gums, making their teeth look small. Luckily, there are options available to help these people feel more comfortable and confident in their smiles. 

What is a Gummy Smile?

A gummy smile, or “excessive gingival display,” is a smile in which the gums appear prominently and make the teeth appear smaller. This can be due to the gums, teeth, or jaw being out of proportion with the other sections, or due to the upper lip being hypermobile. A gummy smile is typically caused by genetics, though it can also be the result of certain medications. 

There is no technical definition for when a person has a gummy smile, given that so much of the diagnosis relies on perception. However, a smile is typically considered to be non-gummy if less than two millimeters of gum is visible between the top of your teeth and the bottom of your upper lip when you smile. If more than that is visible (typically more than three millimeters), then the smile is likely to be considered gummy. 

Doctors estimate that around 14 percent of women and 7 percent of men have gummy smiles. However, those statistics are based on the number of people who come in to have their gummy smiles fixed — in reality, the numbers are probably higher. 

People often want to correct a gummy smile because it is affecting their enjoyment of life. Often a gummy smile can affect a person’s overall confidence and well-being. Given that there are several easy fixes available for gummy smiles, people who are experiencing a decreased quality of life due to their gummy smile should consider visiting a dentist to discuss correction options. 

Ways to Correct a Gummy Smile 

There are a number of options available for correcting a gummy smile, including a gingivectomy, crown lengthening, orthognathic surgery, lip repositioning, and botox. Figuring out which option is right for you largely depends on the root cause of your gummy smile. While there are many possible causes, the most common ones are gums that are long or enlarged, a short or hyperactive upper lip, teeth that are comparatively small, or an upper jaw that is overgrown and makes the gums bulge out. Different procedures tackle different root causes, so it’s important to speak to a doctor before you begin correcting your smile. 

Although correcting a gummy smile can be expensive and can involve some recovery time, the procedures are providing more than just a more beautiful smile — they’re providing an improvement in your overall confidence and well-being. Here’s a closer look at the treatment options that are available:

  • Gingivectomy: This procedure reshapes your excess gums to expose the natural shape of your teeth. It creates a nice balance between the gums, which are shortened, and the teeth, which are lengthened. The procedure is relatively painless and patients typically experience little post-operational discomfort.
  • Crown lengthening: In this procedure, your excess gum tissue and the underlying bone are cut and reshaped to expose the full length of your teeth. The process takes around an hour and usually does not require additional post-operative care. 
  • Orthognathic surgery: This is a more intensive procedure that tackles a gummy smile that is caused by an excessively long upper jaw (as compared to the bottom part of the skull). During the procedure, the upper jaw is recontoured to the proper shape and then secured into a new position that reduces the amount of gumminess in your smile. Unlike the other procedures, orthognathic surgery involves general anesthesia and a hospital stay. 
  • Lip repositioning: This procedure addresses a gummy smile caused by either a short or hypermobile upper lip that exposes too much gum when you smile. It is a simple and safe procedure that restricts the pull of the “elevator” muscles in your upper lip. It doesn’t result in any external scarring given that all the work is done on your inner lip.
  • Botox: This is the least invasive and most short-term way of dealing with a gummy smile. Botox works by temporarily paralyzing the elevator muscles so that they don’t drastically raise your upper lip. While this is a cheaper and faster fix than surgery, the results typically only last around three to four months — Botox needs to be repeated frequently for any long-term results. However, if you are considering eventual lip repositioning for a gummy smile, Botox can be a great way to test out what you will look like before undergoing surgery. 

Which Gummy Smile Procedure is Right for You?

If you think you may have a gummy smile and want to look into potential ways to correct it, Espire Dental can help. Our specialists will diagnose the root cause of your gummy smile and discuss your best options for correcting it. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get started on your journey to a more confident smile.