Many people wonder how to fix a gummy smile. Although braces are one way to repair a smile that displays a lot of gum lines, there are other options. If you are in the Los Angeles area, Potter Orthodontics in Fullerton may have a perfect solution for you. But first, let’s explore what it means to have a gummy smile and what types of treatments are available.

What is a Gummy Smile?

Many people equate a gummy smile with “small teeth.” Even though there is no specific definition for this particular “look,” the phrase is used to describe a smile that exposes three to four millimeters of the gumline.

In more technical terms, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the “gingival smile can be defined as a state in which the line of the smile moves in the apical direction beyond the anteroposterior teeth, causing excessive exposure of the maxillary gingiva during the smile.”

Often a gingival smile can be a matter of the observer. While one person sees too much gum tissue exposed, another may find the look just fine. Differences can be noted based on several factors:

  • Shape and height of teeth
  • The way lips move when smiling
  • The angle of the jaw in relation to facial symmetry

No matter what you call it if you look in the mirror and think that your smile displays too much gum and not enough teeth, you may want to look into some of the treatments available to fix this problem.

What Causes a Gingival Smile?

There have been studies that resulted in no truly conclusive causes for a gingival smile. The results do lead to this being a familial trait steeped in genetics for about 65 percent of individuals within the study group. Other possible causes are:

  • Differences in tooth growth
  • Lip differences
  • Medication use

Tooth growth issues have specific medical names, but the result is still a gummy smile. When gums cover more of the tooth surface, the condition is known as altered passive eruption.

Dentoalveolar extrusion is a condition that causes teeth to over-erupt. This condition can also cause the gingival tissue to over-extend. When the upper jaw bones grow longer than usual, the condition is known as vertical maxillary excess.

Lip growth and musculature can result in having a shorter upper lip. Lip hypermobility can also cause excessive exposure of the gum line when smiling.

The final potential cause is medications. Gingival hyperplasia can result from seizure prevention meds, drugs that suppress the immune system, and some high blood pressure treatments. Although treating the symptoms of these problems is important, the resulting gingival growth can create additional problems such as periodontal disease.

Why Fix a Gingival Smile?

There are several reasons why a patient should look into repairing a gingival smile. Most people would agree that fixing a gummy smile is a cosmetic issue. But there are also health reasons to consider, depending on the degree of gingival overgrowth.

Self-esteem is probably the single largest factor in why people seek corrective measures. Being self-conscious of “small” teeth can keep people from smiling as much. The benefits of having what is considered a more “normal” looking smile can be a boost to self-esteem and confidence.

Fixing a Gummy Smile with Braces

Braces in Yorba Linda can effectively correct a gingival smile, depending on the cause. This works because braces can supply an upward force to the teeth. Although this does not make the gums recede or expose more teeth, it repositions them. Once fully aligned, the gum tissue adjusts and shows less.

Unfortunately, braces will not be the answer in all cases. If the initial problem results from orthodontic issues, braces or Invisalign can be very effective. With braces, the teeth and jaws will be properly aligned, which may offer a better overall look for the smile. Potter Orthodontics can help you decide if this is the right treatment for your gingival smile.

Other Ways to Fix a Gummy Smile

There are many ways to fix a gummy smile. Some are more intrusive than others. Many are not covered by dental insurance unless the problem presents a health-related problem.

Less Intrusive Methods to Fix a Gingival Smile

Among the less-intrusive procedures are injections of botulinum toxin (Botox) and hyaluronic acid fillers. Both of these procedures can produce satisfactory results, but they also have drawbacks. These are only temporary “fixes” and both procedures would need to be repeated often. There are also potential physical ramifications that should be discussed fully before opting for these treatments.

Using Temporary Anchorage Devices (TAD) is also in use to repair gummy smiles. TADs are tiny titanium screws that are implanted in the mouth. The anchors can be used to facilitate tooth movement efficiently.

Surgical Methods to Correct a Gummy Smile

Gum contouring or gingivectomy removes the excess gum tissue using a scalpel or laser. The procedure is performed by a surgeon or periodontist under a local anesthetic. Recovery time is about one week, and the entire process may take more than one session. This process exposes more of the tooth by permanently removing gum tissue.

If lip hypermobility is the cause of your gingival smile, lip repositioning surgery is an option. This procedure occurs under a local anesthetic by a periodontist or oral surgeon. By removing a small section of connective tissue from the underside of the upper lip, the elevator muscles are prevented from lifting the upper lip too high. Recovery takes about a week and can be completed in an hour or less.

In some cases, surgical repositioning of the jaw may be required. The result is a balance in the length of the upper and lower jaws. This process may begin with braces or Invisalign as the teeth must be properly aligned before orthognathic surgery.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia by a maxillofacial surgeon and may include a short hospital stay for monitoring. With orthognathic surgery, the surgeon may remove or extend the jawbone to align the upper and lower jaws. This is a major procedure, and recovery may take 6 to 12 weeks.

Say goodbye to Your Gummy Smile

If you are ready to explore the options to make your smile more appealing, contact Potter Orthodontics to schedule a free consultation. If you would rather speak directly to one of our Appointment Coordinators, please call our office: – (714) 528-4540

Please check us out on Facebook and Instagram too!