What Causes a Gummy Smile and How Can It Be Corrected?
In medical terms, a gummy smile, also known as excessive gingival display, occurs when too much gum tissue shows above the top teeth when you smile. A gummy smile can be corrected. Though the type of treatment will be determined by what is causing the excessive gingival display, once we have identified the source, we can work on creating a beautiful, healthy smile.
What Causes a Gummy Smile?
There are several causes of a gummy smile, but the most common ones are:
- Teeth that appear short due to improper eruption and remain partially covered by gum tissue
- Teeth that are shorter than the gums due to genetics or wear
- A hyperactive upper lip that is normal in length when the face is resting but lifts too high when smiling, exposing a lot of gum tissue
- Gingival hypertrophy refers to long or enlarged gums.
- Vertical maxillary excess is an overgrowth of the upper jaw that causes the gums to bulge.
You may notice that the causes are all related to the teeth, lips, jaws, or gums, which are the key components that dictate the aesthetics of your smile. It’s all about proportion and positioning; if one piece of the smile puzzle is off, the whole thing can fall apart. Unfortunately, in most cases, the condition that causes a gummy smile is genetic, so there is nothing you can do to prevent it.
Treatment for Gummy Smiles
As previously stated, the appropriate gummy smile correction will depend on the cause. Among the options are:
- Suppose the underlying cause of the excessive gingival display is mild and caused by the jaws or teeth. In that case, it can sometimes be corrected with orthodontics to shift the bite into the proper position and make the gums appear less prominent. When we treat gummy smiles in Olathe and Overland Park, we frequently use braces, Invisalign, or braces in conjunction with temporary anchorage devices (TADS), which are small titanium implants anchored into the bone above the teeth to provide a stable, immovable point to apply force. They are similar to headgear that is worn inside the mouth. It may sound frightening, but don’t worry; the procedure is very simple and, as the name implies, only temporary.
- Orthognathic surgery, or jaw surgery combined with orthodontic treatment, is the best option for moderate to severe jaw protrusion. An oral surgeon will re-contour the upper jaw to the proper size before moving it upward into the ideal position and securing it with plates and screws. This procedure is performed under general anaesthesia and necessitates a hospital stay.
- If your teeth are too short due to wear or genetics, veneers or crowns can make them appear longer and improve the tooth-to-gum ratio.
- A periodontist can perform a gingivectomy if there is too much gum tissue. During this procedure, the extra gum tissue is removed and reshaped to expose more of the teeth and improve the aesthetics of your smile.
- If the teeth haven’t fully erupted, crown-lengthening surgery, which involves removing gum tissue or bone to expose more teeth and allowing the gums to retract to their proper position, is an option.
- If a short or hyperactive upper lip causes an excessive gingival display, lip repositioning surgery followed by orthodontic treatment may be an excellent alternative to jaw surgery.
- Laser gum contouring procedures can remove extra gum tissue without surgery for those with gums that extend too far down and cover their teeth.
- Botox is a newer contender far less expensive than surgery for gummy smile treatment. The results, however, are only temporary and last about three to four months, and it only works when the upper lip is the culprit. Then, a doctor injects Botox into the lip, paralysing the muscle and preventing it from lifting too far when you smile.