Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 23-03-2020
When you hear someone say the phrase “gummy smile,” different images may come to mind. A gummy smile mainly refers to excessive gingival display in which your smile displays an excessive amount of gum tissue.
Although the teeth in a gummy smile are usually normal in size, they may appear smaller as they are largely covered by gum tissue.
One of the main features of a beautiful smile is an imbalance between the amount of gum and teeth which are visible. In a normal smile, about 4mm or less of gum tissue along with about 10mm of tooth length can be seen.
In some “gummier” smiles, more than 4mm of gum tissue extends on to the teeth and disrupts the balance between your teeth and gums. This lack of balance can detract from your beautiful smile.
If you feel that your smile shows off more of your gums than you would like, there are a number of effective treatment options to help reduce gingival exposure and enhance the appearance of your smile.
What causes a gummy smile?
Before you can embark on your treatment journey to reduce your gum tissue, it’s important to understand the cause of your gummy smile. This will help guide you towards the best treatment option for you. The causes of a gummy smile can include:
Excess gum tissue
The most obvious and common cause of a gummy smile is an overgrowth of gum tissue that covers a large portion of the enamel of your teeth. This makes your teeth appear smaller than they are.
Excessive gum tissue can be the result of a number of reasons, including genetics, medications, or inflammation within your gum tissue. If gum disease is the cause of your excess gum tissue, then you may require dental scaling and root planing to help treat the gum disease first.
The incomplete eruption of teeth
Approximately 10mm of your tooth length should be visible; however, this might not always be possible if your teeth have only partially erupted. This may give the appearance of a gummy smile, even though there isn’t any excessive gum tissue.
Hyperactive lip muscle
Some individuals have a hyperactive upper lip meaning the muscles which are responsible for controlling the skin underneath the nose can cause your lip to be raised up too far. This hyperactive upper lip muscle causes too much of your gums to be exposed, which can give the appearance of a gummier smile.
Dental developmentIn some cases, a gummy smile can be the result of the way your teeth and jawbone have developed. Dental misalignments can result in the exposure of more of your gums; however, this can be corrected using orthodontic treatments such as braces.
How can I treat a gummy smile?
There are many ways that you can treat a gummy smile to help improve its appearance. These treatment options include:
Dental scaling and root planing
If gum disease is the cause of your excessive gum tissue, it can be managed using dental scaling and root planing. The gum tissue will only be sculpted if required, once the gum infection has been cleared.
Laser gum sculpting — or a gingivectomy — is a treatment used to help reduce excessive gum tissue and reveal more enamel. The target area is first numbed using an anesthetic, and then a laser is used to carefully strip away gum tissue until the gum line has reached the desired height.
The laser cauterizes the gum tissue to help minimize the bleeding and prevent infection. Once the excess tissue is removed, the area is smoothed, and a protective covering is placed over it to allow healing. This is the least invasive procedure for excess gum tissue removal and is usually used when a small amount of gum tissue is being removed.
When you need to remove large amounts of gum tissue, crown lengthening treatment may be suggested for you. This procedure lifts the gum tissue off of the bone to reduce the amount of tissue that surrounds your teeth.
Once the tissue is lifted, the excess gum tissue is removed, and then the properly shaped tissue is placed back down. The result is gums that appear shorter and teeth that appear longer.
If your gummy smile is due to issues with your bite, you may require orthodontic treatment such as traditional braces or removable aligners. Orthodontic treatment will not only help decrease the appearance of excessive gum tissue but also correct the alignment of your teeth and fix your bite.
Injectable wrinkle relaxer
If your excessive gum tissue is the result of a hyperactive lip muscle, botox treatment could be used to help relax this muscle. Botox is commonly used to help relax the muscles in the face, such as the forehead, to avoid the formation of wrinkles.
Similarly, Botox can be used on your upper lip in the area between the top of your lip and your nose to help relax the muscle by temporarily paralyzing it. This way, your lip will not rise too far when you smile, so your gums remain covered. This form of treatment is temporary, so the injections will need to be repeated.
Repeated Botox treatments can be inconvenient to undergo, so an oral or plastic surgeon can also permanently alter the movement of your upper lip through surgical procedures.
Surgery can also be used to reposition an abnormally long upper jaw through a process known as orthognathic surgery. This repositions the jaw to the skull. The overall result of this surgery is to lessen the amount of gum that is visible when you smile.
Lowering the upper lip
In order to treat a gummy smile, lip lowering is used to physically lower your upper lip to help hide some of the excess gum tissue, which has altered your smile.
This surgery involves cutting the gum tissue and mucous membrane and removing a large portion of tissue. The upper lip is then attached to an area that is lower than the previous position, which helps to cover and hide more of the gum tissue.
A Little Less Gum and a Little More Teeth
Excessive gum tissue is usually not a medical concern; however, it can affect the appearance of your smile. A perfect and healthy smile can be a huge source of confidence and happiness for many.
Treating a particularly gummy smile to balance out your teeth and gums can be a great way to make you want to share your smile with the world. If you want to adjust your smile and help balance the amount of gum and tooth in your smile, our team of highly experienced dental professionals here at Milltown Dental can help you do just that.
To learn more about how to treat a gummy smile, call Milltown Dental at 905-878-8528 or contact us here.