The type of treatment our dentists will recommend depends on what causes your gummy smile and the look you want to achieve.
What is a gummy smile?
You may have a ‘gummy smile’ if your gums appear more prominent and out of proportion when you smile or show your teeth. Although personal opinion varies, most people consider a smile to be gummy when at least four millimetres of gum tissue can be seen.
Before a gummy smile can be treated, it’s essential that your dentist understands what’s causing it. In most cases, this condition is not a risk to oral health and the treatment is entirely cosmetic. However, there can sometimes be an underlying cause that needs to be treated first.
What causes gummy smile?
The appearance of a gummy smile can be caused by:
- Gums failing to recede with age
- Teeth failing to erupt fully from the gums
- The upper lip being short or rising too high
- Abnormal development of the upper or lower jaw
When does it need to be treated?
Most patients choose to have gummy smile treatment for cosmetic reasons. These treatments reduce the gum line to show less gum tissue, and may also involve lengthening the teeth to achieve more desirable proportions in the mouth.
If your gummy smile is caused by oral and maxillofacial problems such as teeth not fully erupting or bite issues, your dentist will recommend that these underlying causes are treated as a priority, as they could lead to further oral health problems in the future.
What does gummy smile treatment involve?
If you think you have a gummy smile and you want to change its appearance, you should talk to a dentist or oral surgeon about your treatment options.
Your dentist will examine your mouth to determine the cause and the extent of your condition and recommend the most suitable treatment. This examination may involve the use of dental x-rays and taking an impression of your mouth.
Depending on the cause of your gummy smile, your treatment may involve:
- laser treatment to remove gum tissue and resculpt the gum line
- surgical repositioning of the upper lip
- crown lengthening for short teeth
- braces or aligners to change the position of your teeth and correct bite problems.
What to expect?
Your results and recovery time will depend on the type of treatment used.
Laser treatment to reshape the gums can usually be performed in a single visit to the dental clinic and you can return to your normal activities right away. However, you should follow your dentist’s recommendations about certain foods and drinks to avoid so your mouth will have a chance to heal.
Crown lengthening and maxillofacial surgery to reposition the lips are more invasive procedures that may require the use of sedation.
If your dentist recommends orthodontic treatment, such as braces or aligners, this is a long-term treatment that usually takes a year or more to complete. Clear aligners are a discreet alternative to metal braces that also take less time to move your teeth and jaw into position. Once this is achieved, your dentist can complete your gummy smile treatment by removing excess gum tissue and recontouring the gum line.