model of mouth and teeth

A gummy smile is when there is a noticeably high amount of gum tissue around your teeth. It’s the complete opposite of a toothy smile, which is usually the result of receding gums due to gum disease like periodontal disease or gingivitis. Gummy smiles aren’t when the roots or base of the tooth is exposed, just the opposite. There is too much gum tissue, and this can affect the beauty of your smile.

It’s a common condition, and there are a number of oral surgeries that can be done to correct it.

What Causes a Gummy Smile?

A gummy smile is caused by a number of factors.

You may suffer from an abnormal tooth eruption — where your teeth are a proper length but haven’t emerged fully below the gumline for some reason.

You may also have a hyperactive upper lip muscle. This is when an especially strong upper lip muscle pulls your lip up higher, exposing a high amount of gum tissue when you smile.

You may have a problem with your upper jawbone development. Sometimes a protruding upper jaw can make the jaws appear bigger whenever you smile.

Oral Surgeries to Help a Gummy Smile

We have a number of oral surgery approaches, depending on the cause and nature of your gummy smile.

We might reposition your lips. Or perhaps we’ll numb the lips and gums with a local anesthetic, and then gently separate your hyperactive lip muscle. Then we’ll reattach your upper lip closer to your teeth.

We may also lengthen your crowns with mouth surgery. We’ll numb the lips and gums with a local anesthetic, surgically reshape the bone and gum tissue around a single tooth or across the entire gum line. This brings out the tooth surface to expose more of the tooth and less of the gums.

For a short-term fix, we’ll inject Botox into the upper lip to freeze the muscles and prevent contraction of the upper lip when you smile. This is a way of trying out gum contouring to see if you like the new look. The effects are temporary, but if you like the look of your smile, we can try other more permanent approaches.

We can also inject gel substances like Juvederm into the upper lip to make it fuller. This way, your gums will be less noticeable. This approach is a little more expensive than Botox.

We can also perform a gingivectomy, where the excess gum tissue is removed, and the remaining tissue is reshaped to expose more of your teeth.