Solutions for a Gummy Smile

If you think that you have a “gummy smile”–in other words, your teeth look too short and you show too much gum–don’t despair. In a gummy smile, called excessive gingival display, your upper teeth are overshadowed by the excessive gum tissue in your mouth. It can certainly affect your self-confidence and make you less likely to smile. Generally, 10.5% to 29% of the population has the condition and it is more common in females. A gummy smile is considered to be two millimeters or more of gum tissue. Smiles that only show two millimeters or less are preferable.

Your Fuquay-Varina dentist can help you determine if you have a gummy smile and what recommended treatment(s) there is for you. This article explains some of the causes of excessive gingival display, or gummy smile, as well as available and common treatments.

What Causes a Gummy Smile?

A gummy smile occurs when the proportion of the upper teeth and gums is not balanced. Your teeth, lips, jaws, and gums are all critical components of your smile. When an aspect is skewed, it throws off the balance of the smile. Many times, the factors that contribute to gummy smiles are genetic; however, there are other common causes of a gummy smile:

  • Premature eruption of teeth that remain partially covered by gum tissue
  • Teeth that are small in comparison to the gums due to genetics or as a result of wear and tear
  • Short or hyperactive upper lip muscles, like the levator labii superioris and levator anguli oris, lift the lip upward 
  • A downward movement of the upper teeth or excessive growth of the upper jawbone
  • Gums that are long or enlarged (gingival hypertrophy)

Solutions for a Gummy Smile

A gummy smile can be corrected. There are quite a few treatment options that address the appearance of too much gum tissue. Discussing the condition with your dental professional is the first step in determining the best treatment for your situation and common treatments for a gummy smile.

Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening, also called gingivectomy, involves removing the excess gum tissue to expose more of the crown of the tooth and sculpting the gumline to bring it higher. Usually, a periodontist performs the procedure. During the dental crown lengthening procedure, excess gum and bone tissue is reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. This can be done to one tooth to even your gum line or to several teeth to expose a natural, broad smile. Your dentist or periodontist may also suggest dental crown lengthening to make a restorative or cosmetic dental procedure possible. Crown lengthening can help by adjusting the gum and bone level to expose more of the tooth so it can be restored.

Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Injection

Botulinum Toxin (Botox) injections are helpful for Gummy Smile cases that involve overactive lip muscles. In these cases, small doses of BT are injected to limit the over-contraction of the upper lip muscles. Typically, this treatment lasts for three to six months and must be repeated every six months to a year. Only dentists or medical doctors who have appropriate training can perform this procedure.

Lip Repositioning

Lip repositioning is for those people who show extra gum tissue in their smile due to a hyperactive upper lip. This procedure surgically moves your lip downward, reducing the appearance of excess gum tissue and making your smile more proportionate. Lip repositioning is minimally invasive and very effective for gummy smiles.

Porcelain Veneers

Using veneers or crowns is a cosmetic dental procedure that is an ideal situation when there aren’t any underlying issues that are causing the gummy smile to appear. Veneers and/or crowns are attached to the teeth, providing a purely aesthetic treatment. The veneers make the teeth look longer and larger, which in turn makes the teeth look more proportional to your gums and smile.

Gum Contouring

Gum contouring uses special dental lasers to reshape the gum line in a minimally invasive procedure. When gum disease is the cause behind a gummy smile, lasers can eradicate diseased tissue while healthy tissue is left untouched. Using a laser ensures that the gum line is at a level that is acceptable for you. 

Maxillofacial Surgery

In some cases, a patient’s jawbone needs to be repositioned to solve the gummy smile issue.

Orthodontic Treatment

If the cause of the gummy smile is an incorrect bite, orthodontic treatment like braces and clear aligners can help reposition teeth into a more suitable position that corrects some gummy smiles.

Lip Lowering

Lip lowering is accomplished by removing a small section of gum tissue under the upper lip and then stitching the incision closed. This creates a shorter lip that can’t rise as high as it did previously. In this way, the lip covers more of the gum tissue and reduces the appearance of a gummy smile.

Contact Our Dentists at Hamby Family Dentistry Today

Our professional, knowledgeable dental team at Hamby Family Dentistry is here to help fix your gummy smile. Come see us for a diagnosis and treatment plan that will give you the attractive smile you want. Contact us today. Either call us at  919-552-2431 or complete the form below to set an appointment.

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