If you have ever felt that when you smile that your top gums cover too much of your teeth, you may have what dentist’s call excessive gingival display. For the rest of us, we simply call that a “gummy smile.” Gummy smiles can affect how frequently people smile because they are self-conscious about how they look. Fortunately, there are options that can help to correct this issue and get you smiling again!
What is a Gummy Smile?
Gummy smiles aren’t specifically defined terms. Instead, it typically depends on the patient. If you feel that your top gums cover too much of your teeth and give the impression that you have short teeth or a very large gums, then you likely have a gummy smile. In some recent studies, people estimated that 1-2 mm. of exposed gums was attractive, while 3mm was considered too much or a gummy smile. Experts suggest that the condition affects women more frequently than men. Around 14% of women and 7% of men have what experts would call a gummy smile.
What Causes a Gummy Smile?
There are numerous potential causes of a gummy smile, so you may need to talk to your dentist in order to identify the specific rationale for your concerns, but some of the most frequent causes are:
Improper tooth eruption that leaves teeth partially covered by gum tissue
Small teeth in comparison to gum tissue
A short upper lip
A hyperactive lip that rises too much when the patient smiles
Large or long gums
Overgrowth of the upper jaw
As you read through the list of potential causes, it can be easy to see that the issues are all interrelated. If the teeth, gums, lips, or jaw are off at all, it can cause the appearance of a gummy smile. Unfortunately for most patients, there is nothing that they did to cause the issue, so there isn’t much that you can do to avoid it.
However, there are now options that you can exercise to help correct the issue and get the beautiful smile you want.
Fixing a Gummy Smile
The reason that you have a gummy smile will often dictate the route that your dentist can take to correct the issue. Sometimes your dentist can use orthodontics to correct the issue. Orthodontics help to shift the bite into the proper position and may help with the appearance of your smile.
If the jaw protrudes too much, the best option is usually a surgery. Orthognathic surgery is used to help recontour the upper jaw so that it doesn’t project so much. It shapes it back to the correct size and then pulls it into the proper alignment before securing it with screws. While this option is more invasive and creates longer healing times, it also gives patients dramatic improvements in their appearance.
Porcelain veneers or crowns can also be used to help change the ratio of tooth to gum appearance. These procedures both involve lengthening the appearance of the tooth so that the gums don’t look as long in comparison.
If your gummy smile is created by the fact that there really is too much gum tissue, you can have a gingivectomy completed. This procedure removes excess gum tissue and helps to reshape the gum tissue and the gum line to look proportionate with the teeth.
Laser contouring can also be used to help give you the proper balance of gum height and tooth length. Laser procedures offer faster healing time with minimal damage to the gum tissue.
If you feel that you have a gummy smile, schedule an appointment with your dentist today. They can help get you on the track for the smile that you want.