What is a Gummy Smile?

Published by The Advanced Institute for Oral Health

When you smile, does a ribbon of pinkish gum tissue overshadow your teeth? Does excessive gum tissue make your upper teeth appear too short? If so, you may have a gummy smile.

What is a Gummy Smile?

Dental professionals refer to gummy smiles as “excessive gingival displays,” where gingival is another word for thingsrelating 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.

Causes of a 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.” 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.

How to Determine the Smile Line

Several factors determine the most visually appealing esthetic zone, or smile line, for you. An esthetic 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
  • 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. If you’re looking for a solution to your gummy smile, contact our office and schedule an appointment with our doctors today! Gummy smile correction increases your comfort and boosts your confidence when you smile, eat and speak. You’re only one step away from the smile you’ve always wanted.