Gummy smile

What is a gummy smile?

The gingival (gummy) smile is a deformity characterised by over-reaching of the upper gums when smiling. It occurs when the proportions of teeth and gums are not in proportion. Depending on the size of the gum shown, there are different levels of gummy smile severity:

  • Mild: between two to four millimetres of gum are shown.
  • Moderate: four to six millimetres of gum are shown when smiling.
  • Severe: more than six millimetres of gum are shown when smiling

What symptoms does it present?

The symptom of a gummy smile is just that – the patient shows excessively the upper gums when smiling.

What causes a gummy smile?

The causes of a gummy smile are numerous:

  • The muscles that control the upper lip are hyperactive and causes the upper lip to lift up higher than usual, which in turn displays more of the gums when smiling than normal.
  • Abnormal dental eruption
  • Excessive vertical growth of the bone
  • Wear of the teeth that have decompensated the proportion between tooth and gum

What is the treatment for a gummy smile?

A gummy smile can be treated with a number of methods, and how it can be fixed will depend on the cause of the gummy smile. Depending on what treatment is needed, you may be recommended to an oral surgeon, periodontist or orthodontist.

A gummy smile may be removed with the following:

  • Laser treatment (this can be used for minor gummy smiles)
  • Lip repositioning surgery
  • Braces to move the teeth into a better position, in turn, improving the appearance of the smile
  • Surgical sculpting of the gums to improve their appearance
  • Maxillofacial surgery to reposition the bones to improve the smile.

If the gums appear excessive due to small teeth, they can be increased by placing veneers or crowns over the teeth.

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