Girl Laughing Hat, gummy smile

Do you ever feel self-conscious when you smile, like there may be some part of it that throws you off or does not look aesthetically pleasing? You may sadly have a “Gummy Smile”, or as doctors put it, an excessive amount of gum tissue shown when smiling. Fear not, for as cosmetic practitioners perfect their techniques, there is certainly hope for fixing it.

The Facts behind the Gummy Smile

Before we can move on to fixing the Gummy Smile, it is important to know the reasons behind it. These are the most common reasons: 

• An upper lip that is too short compared to the teeth size

• A hyperactive upper lip

• Teeth that are too short in comparison to the gum either through genetics or age

• A hyperactive upper lip that lifts too high to expose the gum tissue

• Enlarged gums, known as gingival hypertrophy

• An over growth of the upper jaw that makes the gums bulge when smiling.

Please note that there is a chance that a gummy smile can also be caused by genetics, as the proportion and position of your face plays a large part in the aesthetic appearance of your smile. 

For the Young

For a smile to appear gummy, experts have surveyed that it is when the gum is around three millimetres or more. Thus, if you notice it young then there is time to fix it. Once noticed, and you are sure you and your child want intervention to fix it, there is the opportunity for a simple soft tissue laser treatment, which is an experience which has been described as similar to gaining a filling. This may be the more popular option for kids. Be sure to ask the orthodontist to talk you through all the processes to ensure you feel confident about your child undergoing the procedure.

Can Surgery help fix it?

Each gum is unique in its own way, meaning that the idea of surgery would greatly depend on how many problems a gummy smile is causing in the first place. For minor nuisances, the laser treatment can be an easy alternative for both children and adults as it can be taken care of on the same-day as your appointment. You can even look into gum contouring which aims to reshape the gum to make it appear more even and less protruding. 

However, for more severe cases if your gum is severely problematic, then a periodontist can perform a Gingivectomy, in which the extra gum tissue is removed, before the remaining tissue is reshaped. Whilst this can lead to great results, please be wary that this can be a painful process and can take time before your smile is ready to show the world. You may also wish to consider Lip Repositioning Surgery, and additional orthodontic appointments, to avoid potential jaw surgery as this may take less time to heal. 

Crowning a Gummy Smile

An alternative to a Gingivectomy can be obtained if you or your dentist notice your gummy smile before your teeth are fully erupted. As the teeth are still in the process of growing from the gum, it is possible to invest in a “crown-lengthening” surgery, in which the procedure removes some of the gum tissue or bone to expose more of the teeth. Once this has been completed and allowed time to heal, then the gum will begin to retract back to their normal position. Reviews from The American Academic of Periodontology have stated that the benefits of this surgery have increased the confidence and comfort of the clients, especially when smiling, eating and talking. It has even been noted that it has improved their gum health.

Too Scared of Surgery?

Worry not! There is an alternative to any form of surgery by investing in either veneers or crowns in order to expose more tooth rather than the gum. The veneers or crowns will be slightly larger than your teeth and will need a bit of gum space to make room for them. However, once they are in then you will never notice your gums again. Make sure to keep them clean to avoid having to buy new ones.

For the Faint of Heart

Did you know that braces can also be used to help with a gummy smile? Whilst temporary, they make a fantastic alternative to surgery, as they only require having TADS, “mini-screws”, attached to the bone beneath the gum to create an unmovable area within the mouth. This will prevent the gum growing any further and may even reduce it.

Botox is the new way forward

Previously surgery was the main treatment of a gummy smile, with its costs ranging to around £15,000 to fix the gum. However, as these surgeries were often too much money and painful, Botox seems to be the cheaper and quickest way to rid the gummy excess. It takes only around ten minutes and can last up to six months. To describe the treatment, the injection works by paralysing the hyperactive muscles within the upper lip. This means that the gum will no longer elevate and the gum will be reduced.  For cosmetic experts, like the professionals at Harley Street MD, this seems to be the easier way forward to sooth your smile, as it can also easily calm laughter and smile lines, also known as the nasolabial line, on the face.

Dr. Chia Tan

Founder at Harley St M.D.
Dr. Chia Tan is a UK trained medical doctor that specialises in cosmetic and aesthetic medicine and testosterone replacement therapy. He is qualified as a medical doctor since 2003 and has since trained extensively. He has been featured in several leading magazines as well as invited to appear on TV to discuss aesthetic medicine and the latest cosmetic procedures.
Dr. Chia Tan

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