Some people smile with a little bit of their gums showing but for some others, a significant amount of gums can be seen when they smile. Their teeth appear short in proportion to the rest of the gums, giving rise to the term “gummy smile.”
Although people with gummy smiles may have healthy teeth and gums, they may be self-conscious about smiling, and thus reluctant to smile. The good news is that there are options available to correct gummy smiles.
Causes of Gummy Smiles
Gummy smiles may arise due to a number of factors including:
- Excessive display of gums due to the abnormal eruption of the teeth;
- Hyperactive lip muscles which causes the upper lip to rise higher than normal when smiling, showing more gum tissue;
- Prominent upper jaw;
- Prominent position of upper front teeth; or
- Severely worn teeth, resulting in the teeth looking shorter relative to the gums.
Benefits of Treatment
The main benefits of gummy smile treatment are an improved and enhanced smile which in turn, boosts self-confidence and social acceptance.
Treatment for Gummy Smiles
There are several treatment options for those with gummy smiles:
- Crown lengthening: procedure which adjusts excessive gum tissue and the underlying bone. This may be combined with crowns or veneers to give the teeth the final aesthetic look;
- If the cause of the gummy smile is due to front teeth that are set too far forward, orthodontics (alignment of the teeth), crowns and/or jaw surgery may be required
The most important aspect of treatment for gummy smiles is clear communication between the dentist and the patient. Gum surgery itself takes about one hour to complete and the stitches are removed after one week.
If crowns are indicated, then there is a waiting period of about 1-3 months before the final crowns are attached. Where braces and/or jaw surgery is required, the treatment period will take longer, depending on the dental condition of the patient. You will always have teeth and look normal during the whole treatment period.
Gum surgery is NOT a temporary solution – with careful planning and execution, the result will last for a years and years. Proper maintenance and professional follow-up will be essential for successful long term treatment outcome.
Where to Find Treatment
A dental professional trained in gum surgery (periodontist) would be involved in the correction of gummy smiles. As treatment of this nature usually involves other specialty areas of dentistry, e.g. prosthodontists (for crowns or veneers), orthodontists (for braces) or oral surgeons, you may want to consider looking for a dental clinic which can offer access to all these other specialists under one roof.