Posted on: 9 June 2016
If you show too much of your gums when you smile, you may be wondering what causes the problem and if it can be corrected. The good news is that it may be possible to fix the issue with help from a specialist orthodontist. Read on for an overview.
What causes a 'gummy smile'?
The correct medical term for a gummy smile is, 'excessive gingival display'. There are a number of common causes for the condition including:
- an upper lip that is too short or too active
- gums that are too long
- an overdeveloped upper jaw
- teeth that are too long
To determine the cause of your gummy smile, your mouth would have to be examined by a specialist orthodontist. The best course of action is therefore to discuss your concerns with your usual dentist, who will be able to refer you to a specialist.
Over-short or over-active upper lip
When your upper lip is too short, it won't cover your gums when you smile. Alternatively, you may have an upper lip that lifts up too high during smiling, exposing the gums.
In the case of a mildly overactive upper lip, Botox treatment can be effective. The Botox relaxes the muscles that cause your lip to retract too far so that it covers the gums when you smile. In cases where the upper lip is too short, cosmetic surgery may be possible to lengthen or broaden the lip.
Although the effects of Botox on your gummy smile are pretty instantaneous, they are not permanent, so you'd need to have the treatment repeated every few months.
Over-long gums (gingival hypertrophy)
Sometimes, the gums may have grown down too far over the crown of your teeth, a condition called 'hypertrophy'. In this case, a periodontist may be able to surgically remove the excessive gum tissue via a simple surgical procedure called a 'gingivectomy'.
The procedure entails removing the overgrowth of gum tissue to reveal the teeth beneath. You'd need to be hospitalised for a day or so following the procedure, which is carried out under general anaesthetic.
Overdeveloped upper jaw or teeth that are too long
If your teeth are too long or your jaw is overdeveloped (maxillary skeletal excess), having braces fitted may be effective in realigning the teeth so that the gum tissue is effectively 'tucked' back beneath the upper lip. Although braces won't provide you with a quick fix for your gummy smile, the solution is non-invasive and permanent.
If you are unhappy with your gummy smile, have a chat with your dentist. You will probably be referred to an orthodontist for evaluation to determine the cause and to work out a suitable course of treatment.Share