Is a gummy smile stopping you beaming in photographs?

Showing too much pink when you smile can bring disharmony to your mouth and can make you feel self-conscious.

But if your gummy smile is bothering you, you’ll be glad to know there are several ways to aesthetically improve it. From simple injections to comprehensive surgery, there are options to suit everybody.

This article will look at the ways we can treat a gummy smile and get you grinning for the camera again.

What do we mean by a gummy smile?

When someone makes you laugh and you show a lot of pink gum above your teeth this is known as a ‘gummy smile’.

But how do you know if you have one and does it really matter?

It’s the same with anything beauty related, it’s down to opinion. Somebody may have luscious big lips in London, but these may be considered thin in Essex. Similarly, what’s gummy to one person may not be to another. If it doesn’t affect your life then it’s not a problem at all. It won’t affect the health of your mouth or teeth and you can live happily ever after.

It’s only an issue if it’s impacting your life and making you self-conscious.

What causes gummy smiles?

You may have a gummy smile for a whole host of different reasons.

And to be honest it doesn’t really matter why, because there’s nothing you can do about your genetics and biological makeup. Because you are what you are (and because it’s incredibly technical and long-winded to explain) we’re not going to touch on this.

What we’re more interested in is how we can make your smile less gummy and create perfect harmony between your mouth and the rest of your face.

So, what can we do about it?

Treatment for a gummy smile can be as easy as a simple botox every few months to jaw surgery, depending on the cause of it and your preference for treatment.

Here, I’ll list the treatment options from least invasive to most intrusive, the jaw surgery.

Botox

photo showing botox for a gummy smile

Botulinum toxin or botox for short is a substance which causes facial muscle relaxation. It can be injected above your top lip to weaken the muscles used to pull your lip up when you smile. This means you’ll show less gum.

The beauty of gummy smile botox is it’s incredibly quick and easy to administer. It’s also reversible, so if you change your mind you just have to wait 6 months for it to wear off. Alternatively, if you like the results then top up. The procedure only takes 15-20 minutes every 3-6 months but you must attend regularly or it’ll wear off.

Gum recontouring

Gum contouring consists of reshaping your gum to reduce the pink gum and increase the amount of tooth.

We use models and computers to find the golden proportions to give the right symmetry to your teeth, then remove gum to areas that need it.

It’s a perfect treatment option if you have short teeth because we simply make them the correct size. It can be combined easily with botox to get a fantastic, fast result.

Orthodontics

photo of a brace for gummy smile

Orthodontics is the movement of teeth.

Your gum line is shaped by your tooth positions, so if your teeth are in the wrong place it can cause a gummy smile. If we move these teeth to their correct positions the gum will follow and it corrects.

Options for gummy smile braces are no longer resigned to traditional orthodontic treatment which can take years. Short term methods such as Invisalign and 6 Month Smiles can straighten in as little as 3 months.

Frenum attachment adjustment

Frenum attachment? Eh?

Lift up your lip and follow a line towards your nose from the middle of your two front teeth. You’ll find a tag of tissue called the frenum.

This restricts the movement of your lip and can influence how much gummy smile you show.

To help correct your gummy smile, we can do a small easy procedure under local anaesthetic to extend or release the frenum to hide more pink gum.

Lip repositioning

photo of lips

A short upper lip can be a cause of a gummy smile. When you smile it will pull very tight and expose your gums.

It’s also possible your lip could be in the wrong position, too high over your teeth.

We can reposition your lips to correct gummy smiles if this is the cause. This minor gummy smile surgery procedure is done under local anaesthetic. Here, we separate the lip where it meets the gum line and reattach it closer to your teeth.

Surgery to reposition bone

The bone that your top teeth sit in is called the maxilla. The surface of your maxilla is covered by your gums.

Sometimes the maxilla bone may be very tall, so your lips and skin can’t fully cover it. This can lead to a gummy smile at rest as well as smiling.

This can be done to correct the height of the bone so your lip has more coverage. The bone is essentially moved to improve the proportions of your face.

Gummy smile surgery should be reserved for the most severe cases if all other options are exhausted.

Final thoughts

Treatment for a gummy smile can involve several members of the dental team, including gum specialists, oral surgeons, orthodontists and facial aesthetic practitioners. It’s essential that we plan the correction of a gummy smile carefully and every patient’s needs are different.

I’d advise that if you’d like to take the next step and correct your gummy smile then speak to your dentist first. They’ll be able to inform you of the treatments most suitable for you.


AUTHOR

Dr Gareth Edwards Dentist AuthorDr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg) qualified as a dentist with honours. Now practicing in the Bournemouth & Poole area, he has a keen interest in aesthetic dentistry including orthodontics and gum recontouring. He is a certified Invisalign and Six Month Smiles provider.

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