A gummy smile, also known as excessive gingival display in the dental community, is when you smile, and too much gum tissue is visible above the top teeth. At Ollins Orthodontics, we see patients who have concerns about their gummy smiles that make them feel self-conscious. If this sounds relatable to you, don’t worry! A gummy smile can be corrected with a trip to our office.
There are a few different causes of gummy smiles, and each one will require a different treatment option. Thankfully, our doctors have what it takes to help you get the smile you want! Let’s take a look at a gummy smile, what causes it, and how our team can fix it.
What is a gummy smile?
There’s no one specific definition for a gummy smile. This is because it’s a dental issue primarily based on perception. In most cases, people like smiles that expose two millimeters or less of gum tissue. Any more than that, most people considered a smile “too gummy.”
What causes a gummy smile?
Many things can cause a gummy smile. Let’s take a closer look at the most common ones:
- Gums that are long or enlarged, known as gingival hypertrophy
- Teeth that appear short due to premature eruption and remain partially covered by gum tissue
- Teeth that are small in comparison to the gums due to genetics or wear and tear
- A short upper lip
- A hyperactive upper lip that is normal in length when the face is resting but raises too high when smiling
- An overgrowth of the upper jaw, called vertical maxillary excess, makes gums bulge out
What do all of these items have in common? They’re all related to the teeth, lips, jaws, or gums. These happen to be the critical components of your smile! A visually pleasing smile is all about proportion, so if one aspect is out of whack, it will throw off the balance of your smile. Unfortunately, many factors contributing to gummy smiles are genetic, so they can’t be prevented. However, with a bit of help from Ollins Orthodontics, you can get a better smile in no time!
Treatment Options for Gummy Smiles
Your smile line describes the teeth that are visible when you are smiling, laughing, or talking. This is determined by a few factors, including:
- Your gum tissue
- Your facial muscles
- The shape and size of your lips
- The size and shape of your teeth
An ideal smile line will reveal the least amount of gum tissue. We want to see the visible gum tissue has balanced and even contours that are in harmony with the upper lip. However, aesthetics aren’t always the only thing affected by excess gum tissue. If there are any underlying dental conditions present, such as abnormal tooth eruption or jaw development, you may also have a misaligned bite that can impact your overall oral health. Let’s look at some of the treatments available to address a gummy smile!
Scaling and Root Planing
If we’re treating a gummy smile that’s caused by inflamed or infected gums, the best place to start is with a professional dental cleaning called “scaling” and “root planing.” This cleaning process can reach deep into the gum pockets around each tooth to remove bacteria and help any infection heal. Once the infection is taken care of, inflammation will normally subside and the gummy appearance of the smile along with it.
Gum Lift or Crown Lengthening
When your teeth are covered in too much gum tissue, a “gum lift” or “crown lengthening” may be the best treatment option. A gum lift procedure removes some of the tissue around the teeth and restructures the gum line to be higher. This results in showing more teeth than gums. If gum tissue present is abundant, we may recommend crown lengthening treatment. This not only restructures the gums but also changes the bone around the teeth.
This treatment doesn’t literally lower your lip. A small section of gum tissue under the upper lip is removed before the top and bottom are stitched together. This creates a shorter lip that isn’t able to rise as high as it used to, so it covers more of the gum tissue and reduces the appearance of a gummy smile. Botox can also be helpful for hyperactive upper lips! Injecting Botox into the upper lip will limit its range of movement, reducing the amount of gum tissue shown when the patient smiles. This minimally invasive solution wears off in about 3-6 months.
Veneers or Crowns
If no major underlying issues are causing a patient’s gummy smile, veneers or crowns can be good non-invasive treatment options. These are attached to the teeth to make them appear longer, larger, and more proportionate to the gums.
If a gummy smile is the result of a bad bite, orthodontic treatment like braces or clear aligners can help. This will correct the bite and reduce the amount of gum tissue that shows when smiling. Aligning your smile can also alleviate symptoms like jaw and neck pain.
Your smile is safe at Ollins Orthodontics
Ollins Orthodontics wants to help you on your road to the perfect smile. Our well-trained doctors will create a custom treatment plan and provide exceptional care from your first appointment to your last. Orthodontics is our primary specialty, our caring team has the skills and experience to give you the best in treatment at the best costs, and with the best efficiency as you work to align your jaw and smile!
No matter where you are along your orthodontic journey, we want to be there for you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your FREE consultation here at our Ollins Orthodontics office. There is no pressure or obligation to enter a treatment plan but great individualized information to help you decide what is best for your smile.