Treating the Gummy Smile…
Do you think you show too much gum when you smile?
When you smile, usually the lip sits just above the teeth and only a very small amount of gum tissue is visible. In some cases, however, a disproportionate amount of gum tissue is exposed when smiling, and, while this is not unattractive nor an issue for many people, others look to have this corrected.
The scale we use is:
Severe: more than 100%
Rest assured, there are many solutions for correcting a gummy smile and your treatment options will depend on the nature of your particular condition which could involve the jaw, gums, teeth or a combination of these structures. Your dentist will discuss the diagnostic findings with you and an appropriate treatment recommendation will advised.
“A gummy smile can be mild to advanced and identifying the cause is the first step.”
Botox – Botox injections is a simple and temporary correction that is non-invasive and allows you to see results before trying surgery. The injections will weaken/paralyze the muscles of the upper lip to control the amount of lip retraction so that more of your gums are covered when you speak and smile. The amount of injections depends on how strong the muscle is and sometimes, the muscle is just too strong or the gummy condition too extensive for any effective results. This treatment option is only temporary and must be repeated every 3-9 months to maintain your new smile.
Some surgeries to correct gummy smiles are more invasive than others and treatment recommendations will depend on the severity and type of gummy smile. It is also common to combine treatments to help achieve the best result.
Lip repositioning – This involves making a small incision along the gum tissue to separate the inside of the upper lip from where it meets the gum line and repositioning it. This will limit the retracting movement of the lip and allow it to assume a lower position over the gums and keep closer to the teeth when you smile. This is a permanent procedure with a quick healing time and minimal after-surgery discomfort.
Short lip length – If the length of your upper lip is too short then it may not adequately cover your gums. This is often successfully corrected with lip repositioning surgery.
Jaw Orientation – The position of your upper jaw and the amount of vertical length can be excessive and interfere with the lip’s coverage of your upper gums. Orthognathic surgery may be needed in order to reposition the entire upper jaw so that it is more proportionate for an aesthetically pleasing smile.
Frenulum Attachment– If you lift up your upper lip you will notice that there is an extension of tissue that attaches the inside of your upper lip to the gums. This is called a frenulum and a surgical procedure can be done using local anaesthetic to cut and release or elongate this tissue so that your upper lip can then cover your gums more.
Short teeth – Gum tissue is removed to reveal more tooth crown or to achieve a more proportionately amount of visible gum line. Using a laser or electro-surgical cauterizing tool, the gums are re-contoured to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing shape, symmetry, length of the gum line. This is often done when teeth are short due to insufficient eruption and sometimes, the underlying bone may also need to be re-shaped.
Strong levator muscles –
Medical conditions/Medications – Some medical conditions and/or their therapies can cause an abnormal overgrowth of gum tissue which covers the crown portion of the tooth. The gum tissue can be trimmed back to reveal more tooth structure.
Looking at this image. You can see the upper lip is in a lower
position now that the levator muscles have been relaxed. This “mild”
gummy smile was easily corrected.
Not every person with a gummy smile considers it a hindrance nor an impact to their enjoyment of life, comfort, and well-being. However, if you are reluctant to smile and are looking for a solution, speak to your dentist and they will assess your smile. If, in their opinion, the correction should be evaluated by a dental specialist, they will make the appropriate referral for you.
Your Smile is a wonderful expression and we hope you have many reasons to use it!