How To Fix A Gummy Smile

May 24, 2023

What is A Gummy Smile/Gummy Teeth?

A gummy smile/gummy teeth is a condition wherein too much gum tissue shows above the top teeth when a person smiles. Specifically, it is when more than 4 mm of gums is visible above your upper teeth when smiling. It is more formally known as excessive gingival display. For people with this condition, their upper lip lifts too far above their upper teeth, revealing more of their gums than usual. 

Women are more likely than men to have gummy teeth. Moreover, the incidence of gummy smiles decreases with age. It is more common among those in their 20s and 30s. 

Celebrities with A Gummy Smile

There are a ton of celebrities with gummy smiles. Here are a few of them!

K-pop royalty Suga from BTS

Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman

“It Girl” Jennie from Blackpink

How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders

Pop Icon Gwen Stefani

Twice’s Leader Nayeon

Chart-topper Miley Cyrus

Causes of A Gummy Smile: What Does It Mean?

What causes a gummy smile? Read on to find out!

Reason 1: Genetics and Anatomy

Some people are just born with gummy smiles! They can be born with a short or overactive upper lip muscle that is normal in length when the face is resting, but lifts the lip too high when smiling; naturally tiny teeth that look small when compared to the gums; or they can be born with overly long or enlarged gums (or gingival hypertrophy).

Changes in our body, like hormonal imbalances associated with pregnancy or puberty, can also cause gummy smiles.

Reason 2: Abnormal or Partial Dental Eruption

Because of abnormal or partial dental eruption, your teeth will appear short and will remain partially covered by gum tissue, causing you to have a gummy smile. This is most commonly due to the abnormal timing of the loss of primary teeth and/or the eruption of permanent teeth.

Reason 3: Excessive Wear and Tear of the Teeth

Your teeth can also become smaller because of excessive wear and tear. This will tip your teeth-to-gum ratio, leading to a gummy smile. There are three common causes of wear and tear: erosion, attrition, and abrasion.

Erosion is caused by acids in the diet. Excessive soft drink or fruit drink consumption is a common culprit. Stomach acid, as in those with Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can also cause erosion.

Attrition refers to teeth grinding. Also called bruxism, teeth grinding is often done subconsciously during the night due to stress and anxiety.

Lastly, abrasion is mostly due to incorrect tooth brushing. Brushing for too long, with too much pressure, or with the wrong technique can result in tooth abrasion.

Reason 4: Poor Dental Hygiene

Poor dental hygiene is another contributing factor in this situation. When plaque builds up on your teeth, it can find its way under the gums, which then become inflamed and enlarged. 

Those with braces who find brushing and flossing more troublesome than those without braces are particularly vulnerable to plaque buildup and gum inflammation and enlargement. So if you have braces, pay extra attention to your oral hygiene!

Reason 5: Medical Causes

Listed below are some medical conditions that can also cause one to have gummy teeth. However, these conditions are quite rare.

Reason 6: Hereditary Gingival Fibromatosis

This is a slow but progressive enlargement of keratinized gingiva that often becomes severe enough to cause speaking problems.

Reason 7: Blood Disorders 

Leukemia is an example of a blood disorder that can cause gummy teeth.

Reason 8: Vertical Maxillary Excess

Less rare than hereditary gingival fibromatosis and blood disorders, this is when there is an overgrowth of the upper jaw, causing the gums to bulge out.

Treatment Options for A Gummy Smile

Here are some treatment options for your gummy smile.

1.) Crown Lengthening

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, crown lengthening or gingivoplasty is for those with teeth covered with too much gum tissue. In this procedure, excess gum and bone tissue are reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. This can be done to one tooth or to several teeth to completely reverse a gummy smile. It is painless and can be completed within 2 hours! 

2.) Botulinum Toxin (BT) Injection (Botox)

Botox isn’t just for wrinkles! This is the treatment of choice for those with overactive lip muscles. Only one or two units of Botox are needed to treat a gummy smile.

However, Botox doesn’t work immediately. You will need to wait for 2 or 3 days to see an improvement in your smile, and the full result will only be visible 14 days post-treatment. In some cases, you may be asked to visit your dentist for a follow-up appointment after 2 to 3 weeks to assess the treatment’s success and determine if further adjustments are needed. Additional injections are sometimes required. Moreover, the effects of Botox typically last for three to six months and must be repeated every six months to one year.

3.) Orthodontic Treatment or Surgery

If your gummy teeth are caused by the downward movement of the upper teeth or excessive growth of the upper jawbone, you’ll want to visit an orthodontist. Orthodontists may use orthodontic appliances to push the teeth upward or they may collaborate with surgeons to surgically move the teeth. However, surgery is only indicated for severe cases where more than 7mm of gum is exposed.

4.) Teeth Cleaning

Sometimes, gum disease can cause your gums, making your teeth appear shorter.. Swelling can be treated by professionally cleaning the teeth and root surfaces. This is one of the simplest ways to treat a gummy smile!

Want A Better Overall Smile?

For those with gummy smiles or for those without, you could get better oral hygiene with these two methods.

Proper oral hygiene is the star of a perfect smile: perfect teeth! Oral hygiene is vital if you want a better overall smile. This includes regular check-ups and cleaning appointments with your dentist, and for those who want bright, shiny teeth – teeth whitening.

Alternatively, you could also get started by doing some smile exercises!

You can train your facial muscles to smile a certain way, even if you have a gummy smile! There are loads of smile exercises you can do, but for gummy smiles, I recommend smiling wide with your lips pressed firmly together. Afterward, gradually peel your lips apart, starting at the corners of the mouth and moving toward the center. Finish with a wide, toothy grin. Hold for ten seconds, then gradually reverse, closing the lips first in the center and moving outward.

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