Gummy Smile Issues- Options and Solutions

What is a gummy smile?

A gummy smile is simply a smile that shows an excessive amount of gum.

There is a wide spectrum in the range of gummy smiles. You may have a small increase in the amount of visible gum – say a couple of mm – right through to nearer 10mm.

It is a very common situation and can result in a loss of self- confidence and a refusal to smile.

The amount of gum shown when you smile is an important characteristic of a beautiful smile. If you feel that you show too much gum (have ‘excessive gingival display’ in dentist speak), then there are a few treatment options available, some of which are surprisingly quick and simple and can have significant results.

Dr Jamie’s cases:

Before & After

Why choose Dr Workman to look after you?

Not only is Dr Workman a very good dentist, he has genuine caring nature and always makes sure you feel truly looked after. This is why he has such a loyal following of, families, young professionals right through to our older generation. With over 12 years experience, he is young, passionate, great at what he does and has an excellent aesthetic eye. If you would like a dental professional you can really trust,  who places your health, happiness and comfort as an absolute priority, then you would be hard pushed to look any further. If you have typed ‘dentist near me’ then our state of the art Maroubra dental practice won’t be far away.

What causes a gummy smile

1. Too much gum overlying the teeth – teeth that don’t erupt fully in the normal way may be covered by excessive gum and as a result appear shorter (even though they may be the correct length), creating an excess of visible gum.

2. Hyperactive muscles- More commonly it’s the muscles that control your upper lip (the levator labii superioris Alaquque Nasi and occasionally the Labii superioris) that are over active causing your lip to rise higher than normal exposing more gum than you would normally display.

3. Jaw discrepancies- if you have a very prominent and protrusive upper jaw and teeth, the lip will rest in a way that shows additional gum due to the change in profile.

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How do you treat a gummy smile?

How you treat the gummy smile depends on what the cause is.

So, the crucial first step is the correct diagnosis; this may involve various imaging such photos and x-rays.

Dr Jamie will examine your face, lips, mouth, teeth and gums to determine the extent of the excessive gingival display and any possible causes.

You can identify the cause by: looking at the muscles during smiling, the way the lip moves, the width versus length ratio of the front teeth and the side profile of the face.

The following issues present themselves:

1. Too much gum overlying the teeth- requiring removal of the excessive gum tissue. This procedure is generally performed with a high-powered soft tissue laser, though can also be done with a scalpel. It’s a simple quick procedure with minimal risk and downside, creating a quick and excellent change in aesthetics. You may hear this called ‘gum contouring or a gum lift’.

2. Hyperactive muscles- these are treated by targeting the offending muscles with Botulinum Toxin (Botox or Dysport)- the dose is dependant on the amount of gum display and will show results in 3-7 days after placement. It has a bit of a sting, but the results are incredible. Dr Jamie may need to top up further at the 2-week review, but this is a very simple and predictable treatment. The result will last 3-6 months on average after which another injection will be required. A significant improvement can also by achieved using dermal fillers to enhance the volume if the lips are particularly thin. Dr Jamie is able to perform each of these treatments for you. “When the muscles pulling the lip vertically are hyperactive, this is, in my opinion, the best treatment you can have.” The effects will be less impressive if the rise in the top lip is a result of more lateral than vertical pull)

3. Teeth and jaw discrepancies- there is no real easy fix here; orthodontic treatment can reposition the teeth within the available bone in the jaw. This can definitely help but more severe discrepancies will require surgery to reposition the bone. The risks and complications are much more significant with this level of treatment but the results can be life changing.

It may be necessary for Dr Jamie to refer you to a specialist, like a periodontist, orthodontist or an oral maxiilofacial surgeon to complete part of the treatment above. Exactly ‘who’ will depend on the specific nature of your condition, but this will be discussed at your consultation. Any muscular treatments will be performed by Dr Jamie on the day if you are happy to go ahead.

Treatment video of gummy smile due to muscle overactivity

Before video
After video

Summary Box:

Treatment time15 mins

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