What Is A Gummy Smile? How Can It Be Fixed?

A smile is an essential aspect of humans, and everyone wants an attractive smile. A gummy smile is among the conditions that cause some degree of discomfort when you smile. Although not a medically significant condition, many people are unaware of the treatment options for a gummy smile.

What is a Gummy Smile?

There is no precise definition of a gummy smile. It is mostly perception-based and will, therefore, vary from one person to another. In dental practice, a gummy smile is a smile that exposes more than four millimeters of your gum. That is, the upper gum prominently appears when you smile.

Can A Gummy Smile Be Fixed??

Yes, it is possible to correct a gummy smile. If a gummy smile affects how you enjoy life, your comfort, and esteem, then it is time you take action. A consultation with your dentist will avail you of all the treatment options.

What Are The Causes Of A Gummy Smile?

Some of the causes of gummy smile include:

Variations in Teeth Development

At times, how the teeth and jawbone develop can cause a gummy smile. This development may be a family trait, although it varies among individuals. A gummy smile will occur when the gum covers more of the teeth’s surface; a condition termed altered passive eruption.

Sometimes, due to dentoalveolar extrusion, the teeth in the front of the mouth grow too far in, and consequently, the gum develops too far. Sometimes, the bones that make the upper jaw grow longer than they should, a condition termed vertical maxillary excess. Vertical maxillary excess can cause a gummy smile.

Hyperactive Lip Muscle

Some people have a hyperactive upper lip. The muscles that attach to the skin beneath the nose cause the lip to rise in a manner that exposes more gum tissue. The condition is genetic but has no medical significance. However, most people prefer to treat it so they can have a more attractive smile.


Some medications can cause gingival hyperplasia, a condition characterized by excessive growth of gum tissues around the teeth. Some of the medicines that can cause over-development of gum tissue include those that manage high blood pressure, suppress the immune system, or prevent seizures. Consult your dentist as soon as you notice you are developing gingival hyperplasia. Delayed treatment can result in periodontal diseases.

Tooth Wear

Excessive tooth wear can alter the gum to tooth ratio. The wear causes the teeth to appear shorter. This can cause compensatory eruption where the teeth erupt gradually to compensate for the wear. The body is adjusting to maintain a functional bite with the shorter teeth. These changes will cause you to develop a gummy smile.

Lip Differences

A gummy smile is prone to appear when the upper lip is shorter than usual.

What Are The Treatment Options For A Gummy Smile?

There are several ways to improve a gummy smile, depending on the cause.

SRP Therapy

If the cause of excessive gum tissue is inflammation or infection, your dentist may prescribe a scaling and root planning treatment. During SRP, your dentist will scrape the agents responsible for infection or inflammation off the roots of your teeth underneath the gum line. Upon treatment of the underlying causes, your dentist will assess if you require laser gum sculpting to reduce overgrown gum tissue further.

Crown Lengthening (Periodontal Plastic Surgery)

Crown lengthening entails eliminating excessive gum tissue to reveal more enamel. Also called laser sculpting, the procedure utilizes advanced technology and technique to carefully remove small strips of gum tissue to attain a higher gum line.

Unlike traditional gum surgery, the laser cauterizes the tissue to reduce bleeding and recover time. Depending on the need, your dentist will utilize anaesthetic or sedation method to keep you comfortable during the procedure. The procedure may, however, cause the tissues of the gum to relapse.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is used to rectify a gummy smile caused by hypermobile lips. The dentist injects hyaluronic acid fillers into your lips. This is a temporary solution, and a single injection of the fillers will restrict the movement of muscle fibers in the upper lip for about eight months.

Although complications are rare, injecting hyaluronic acid comes with potential risks. The procedure can damage blood supply resulting in tissue loss, blindness, or cause a stroke. The body may also initiate an immune attack against the filler to cause a granuloma. Hyaluronic acid treatment is cheaper than surgical options.

Botulinum Toxin (BT) Injection

BT injection or Botox is another way of treating a gummy smile caused by hypermobile lips. The dentist injects small doses to prevent excessive contraction of the upper lips. If injected in excess, botulinum toxin is likely to distort your smile.

Botox is a temporary solution, and you will need to repeat the injection every three to four months. When injected in excess, Botox may yield undesired outcomes. Botox is a short-term treatment that lasts for three to six months. You will have to repeat the injection twice every year to maintain a perfect smile.

Temporary Anchorage Device

If you do not want an invasive intervention, then a temporary anchorage device is your best option. However, the suitability of TAD will depend on the cause of your gummy smile.

A TAD will pull your teeth into a position that lessens a gummy smile. TADs are tiny screw devices that are implanted into a bone in your mouth. Usually, a maxillofacial surgeon uses a local anaesthetic to numb the parts that the screws are inserted.

Orthognathic Surgery

Your dentist will recommend orthognathic surgery when the cause of gummy smile is an excessive development of the upper jawbone of the downward movement of the upper teeth. Your dentist will use orthodontic appliances to push your teeth upwards.

Where necessary, your dentist will collaborate with surgeons to surgically move your teeth upwards. It takes anywhere between six to twelve weeks to recover fully from the procedure. The cost of this procedure is higher compared to the less evasive treatments.

Can I Treat My Gummy Smile Without Surgery?

Yes, you can treat your gummy smile without undergoing surgery. Non-surgical options include Botulinum injection, hyaluronic acid injection, SRP, and temporary anchorage devices (TADs). However, Hyaluronic acid and botulinum injections do not yield permanent results.

A gummy smile is a common condition. The initial step in correcting a gummy smile entails getting a proper diagnosis from your dentist. This way, your dentist will determine the right cause of action to rectify your smile.

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