There’s a good chance your smile contributes in a big way towards your self-image, as is the case for many people. Even if your teeth are perfectly healthy you may be feeling less than ideal about your gums if they show too much, causing a “gummy smile.” You might cover your mouth when you laugh or smile in order to conceal your gums to others. However, there may be several options available to you which may help to alleviate your issues with your gums.
What is a gummy smile?
More clinically, a gummy smile is known as “excessive gingival display.” Doctors have estimated that around 14% of women and 7% of men have gummy smiles. This number could be higher as these numbers are just based on people who have come to a dentist to have this problem corrected. Excessive gingival display is when your gums appear prominently and make your teeth appear to be smaller.
It can be caused by the gums, teeth, or jaw being out of proportion with the other sections or due to your upper lip being hypermobile. Usually, a gummy smile can be explained by genetics but it can also be caused by medications in some cases. Due to how subjective this condition is, there’s no technical definition for when a person has a gummy smile. A lot of the diagnosis does come down to perception, but a typical rule of thumb is that a smile is normal 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 you have more gum than that showing, your smile can be considered to fall under excessive gingival display.
How can I correct my gummy smile?
Luckily, if your gummy smile is causing you distress, there are a number of ways to correct it. These include gingivectomy, crown lengthening, orthognathic surgery, lip repositioning, and botox. Determining which option is right for you will depend on the root cause of your gummy smile. There are many possible causes, but some include 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. These procedures each tackle a different kind of root cause, so it’s very important to talk to your dentist so they can determine which will benefit you.
Here is a short description of each of the corrective options:
- Gingivectomy: This is a procedure where your gums are reshaped to expose the natural shape of your teeth. The procedure is relatively painless and there’s usually minimal postoperative 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. It usually takes around an hour and often doesn’t require much post-operative care.
- Orthognathic surgery: This procedure is a bit more intensive. It tackles a gummy smile that is caused by an excessively long upper jaw. During the procedure the jaw is contoured to the proper shape and then secured into a new position that reduces the amount of gumminess in your smile. This usually involves general anesthesia and a hospital stay.
- Lip repositioning: This procedure is used when the root cause of your gummy smile is either caused by a short or hypermobile upper lip that exposes too much gum when you smile. Lip repositioning is simple and safe. It restricts the pull of the “elevator” muscles in your upper lip.
- Botox: This is an option that is both the least invasive but also only fixes the problem short term. Botox works by temporarily paralyzing the elevator muscles so they don’t drastically raise your upper lip
As you can see, there are many different options available if you’d like to take steps to correct your gummy smile. The best way to get started is to contact us and schedule a visit to our office. We’ll be able to determine the root cause of your gummy smile and then work with you to figure out which option is the best for you.