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How Can I Fix a Gummy Smile?

Everyone wants healthy, pink gums surrounding their teeth.  Some people, though, have a little too much.  When you see a full layer of gum tissue between the upper lip and the upper teeth, we often refer to it as a “gummy” smile.  There are a few different causes of gummy smiles, which means there are also a few different ways to fix them.

Causes of Gummy Smiles

The cause of the appearance of too much gums in a smile can result from a problem with the gums themselves, or a problem with the upper jaw.

Excess Gum Tissue

Some people simply have an excessive amount of gum tissue covering over normal sized teeth.  The teeth may appear to be smaller or shorter than average, but that is because the gums are covering more than they should cover.  These gums may be perfectly healthy; there is simply too much of them.  This type of excess gum tissue occurs naturally and is not the result of some disease process or poor oral hygiene.

Unhealthy Gum Tissue

When gum tissues are unhealthy due to inflammation and poor oral hygiene, they swell and appear larger than normal.  This type of gummy smile is related to a disease process and requires dental treatment for the sake of your health.  We see this commonly in adolescents and teenagers undergoing braces.  If they do not clean around the brackets, the gums react to the plaque buildup, swelling and growing to fill in around the brackets and wires.

Improper Position of Upper Jaw

In rare cases, a gummy smile results from an improper position of the upper jaw.  When the upper jaw grows in a vertical direction, becoming longer than normal, it pushes the upper teeth further from the nose and upper lip.  This gummy smile is a result of the growth and development of the face and has nothing to do with the gums themselves.

Fixes for Gummy Smiles

So how do we fix these gummy smiles?  It depends on the cause.  We treat those caused by gum issues with gum treatment or surgery, and we treat those caused by jaw issues with jaw surgery.

Gum Surgery

In the case of excessive gum tissue, whether healthy or unhealthy, the most reliable solution for creating a cosmetic gum line and a beautiful smile is removal of the excess gum tissue.  This removal involves a minor surgical procedure using a dental laser.  Healing is very fast, and there is minimal post-operative pain.  Your home care after this type of procedure is instrumental in your overall result.  Make sure to follow all of the doctor’s instructions!

Jaw Surgery

When an upper jaw is too long, the only way to improve its appearance is by surgically re-positioning it.  In the case of a misplaced upper jaw, we work with an oral & maxillofacial surgeon to plan and carry out the movement of the upper jaw into a more cosmetic, and often more functional, position.  This not only improves the appearance of your smile; it improves the appearance and shape of your overall face.

Do You Have a Gummy Smile?

Call today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren.  We will discuss the cause of your specific cosmetic concerns and the various options we have to improve them.