Excessive gingival display is when too much gum tissue shows when you smile, more commonly known as a gummy smile. It can make you feel self-conscious, and you may even try to hide your smile. The good news is, gummy smile correction is possible! At Sandifer Orthodontics, we offer a customized approach to care. Once Dr. Sandifer determines the underlying cause of your gummy smile, he will create a treatment plan that gives you outstanding results. Here are the basics of excessive gingival display and how we can help fix it.
What is a gummy smile?
Studies have been conducted to find out what people consider a gummy smile, but there isn’t a set definition. This is something that you’ll know when you see it! However, the smiles that subjects rated as the most attractive had two millimeters or less of gum tissue showing on average.
While the exact number varies by study, in most research, when three to four millimeters of gum tissue was exposed, subjects perceived it as a gummy smile and rated it less attractive. Gummy smiles seem to affect women more than men, with doctors estimating 14% of women and 7% of men have excess gum tissue when smiling.
You don’t have to break out a ruler or get technical, though – it’s more about how you feel about your smile. If you’re worried about having a gummy smile, Dr. Sandifer can evaluate your teeth, gums, and lips and present you with options for correcting them.
What causes a gummy smile?
There are various causes of a gummy smile, and many of them are genetic. Here are a few reasons why people have gummy smiles:
- A short upper lip is a common cause of a gummy smile. If the lip doesn’t come down far enough, an excessive amount of gum tissue can show when you smile.
- Small or short teeth can be at the root of the issue. Teeth can be short because they didn’t erupt correctly and are still covered by a bit of gum tissue, or they can be small compared to the gums because of wear or genetics.
- Another common culprit is a hyperactive upper lip. In this instance, your lip is the correct length but the muscles contract too much when you smile, and your lip lifts too high, revealing a lot of gum.
- A gummy smile can be a skeletal issue too. When the upper jaw is too large or sticks out too far, it can make the gums appear more prominent or even bulging.
- Some people have a condition known as gingival hypertrophy, which is an overgrowth of gum tissue around the teeth.
Options to correct your gummy smile
Braces or Invisalign
If the positioning of your teeth and jaw makes your gums stick out and look more prominent, such as an overbite, braces or Invisalign can be helpful. By bringing your teeth and jaw into alignment, we can help reduce the number of gums showing when smiling.
Diode laser treatment for a gummy smile is precise, fast, and completely painless. It’s quickly replacing some of the more invasive options on this list. Dr. Sandifer numbs your gum tissue with a topical anesthetic and uses the laser to remove the excess gum tissue around your teeth and then reshape what’s left, creating more balance and helping to fix a gummy smile.
A gingivectomy used to be a surgical procedure, but we can often do it with a laser these days. The only thing you’ll feel during the procedure is the movement of the laser tip, and there aren’t any needles involved. Gum tissue removal with the diode laser is safe and effective for patients of all ages. We usually do it after your braces or Invisalign treatment is complete to put the finishing touches on your new smile.
Gummy smile Botox treatment involves injecting the upper lip muscles with onabotulinumtoxinA. The botulinum toxin temporarily paralyzes the muscle so that it can’t contract and lift as far as your smile. Less gum shows, and it has proven to be effective when the upper lip is the cause of a gummy smile. However, the results only last for about three to four months.
Veneers or Crowns
If your gummy smile is due to really short teeth, cosmetic restorations like crowns and veneers can be used to make teeth look longer and give you a better tooth-to-gum ratio.
Lip Repositioning Surgery
For a gummy smile resulting from a short or overactive upper lip, surgery can be performed where the “elevator” muscles of the lip are severed so that it can’t lift as high when you smile.
However, this can be pretty costly, and there is downtime and discomfort associated with it, so a less invasive option could be a better choice depending on the underlying cause. However, in severe cases caused by the upper lip, the surgery combined with orthodontic treatment can be helpful.
Crown lengthening surgery involves gum tissue removal and recontouring of gums and, occasionally, bone to let more of the tooth’s surface show. This is often performed if the teeth aren’t fully erupted and are obscured by gum tissue.
Jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery, is only reserved for extreme cases when the jaw is overdeveloped or with severe jaw protrusion. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon recontours the upper jaw to proportionate to the lower jaw. They then reposition it, so it’s in its proper place. This is done in a hospital under general anesthesia.
Since you’ll also need orthodontic treatment in conjunction with jaw surgery, we refer to it as surgical orthodontics. Dr. Sandifer will coordinate with your oral surgeon to create a treatment plan for your unique smile. You’ll wear braces or Invisalign before your surgery and then again afterward to lock in your bite. The entire process can take several years to complete and a lengthy recovery time. However, if your jaw discrepancies are severe, it could be your best bet and give you permanent, dramatic results.
Correct your gummy smile with Sandifer Orthodontics
As you can see, having a beautiful smile involves creating the ideal relationship between your gums, teeth, lips, and jaw. When something isn’t right, like you have excess gum tissue or short teeth, it can throw off the entire balance of your smile. When creating a treatment plan, Dr. Sandifer always keeps each component in mind so that when he moves your teeth, everything falls into place and looks proportionate, including your gums.