Causes Of A Gummy Smile

A smile is a simple gesture, but one that can mean so many different things. An attractive smile is now more desirable than ever before, and is considered to be a symbol of honesty, happiness, health, attractiveness and success. Unfortunately, most of us have at least one or two aspects of our natural teeth that are less than enamoured about. One common complaint is a ‘gummy’ smile.

Woman smiling

What is a ‘gummy’ smile?

If you seem to have an unusually large amount of gum flesh on display when you smile, it may be affecting your confidence. Often referred to as a ‘gummy smile’ due to the level of soft tissue that is evident, this condition can also cause teeth to appear shorter than they should be, your gums will be highly visible, and your upper lip may look too small or like it sits abnormally high.

What causes a gummy smile to develop?

A gummy smile is a very common dental complaint, and there are several different factors that could contribute towards you developing one.

Excess gum tissue

Gum tissue is vital for holding the teeth in place, so they do not easily slip, move around and become lost. If you have excess tissue in this area, it may cause your natural teeth to look shorter than they really are.

Neurological changes

The muscle that controls the movements of your upper lip can become hyperactive. If this happens, it can cause your upper lip to start to rise up higher than usual, exposing more of the gum tissue underneath. This can make your gums more visible and give the appearance of a gummy smile even when there isn’t really any more gum tissue than normal.

Hereditary factors

The appearance of our mouth and teeth is predominantly decided by our genetics. Therefore, if your parents or grandparents have elongated gums, particularly ‘short’ teeth or similar problems, you too may experience the same.

Teeth that have failed to erupt properly

In some cases, teeth fail to break through the gum all the way. This process is known as eruption. If your teeth erupt improperly, they may remain partially covered by gum tissue and this can make your smile look gummy.

Overgrowth of the upper jaw

Known as vertical maxillary excess, this condition can make the gums bulge out and upper lip to thin, causing your smile to look ‘gummier’ than is considered normal.

Can a gummy smile be fixed?

Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry procedures mean that it is possible to address the appearance of a gummy smile.

The most common treatment recommended to patients is a process known as crown lengthening, although some dentists refer to it as a gum lift. This involves reshaping your bone and gum tissue so that more of your natural tooth is exposed. The procedure is performed using a local anesthetic, so you won’t feel any pain. Our dentist will make small incisions in to the gum so that they can be pulled away from the teeth. Excess gum tissue will be cut away and the area will be cleaned and then stitched back together.

While crown lengthening can be performed manually, an increasing number of dentists are now offering laser crown lengthening. The aim of the procedure is the same, but the gum contouring is carried out using cutting edge laser technology which can help reduce the risk of human error and minimizes surgical bleeding.

If you show a lot of gum tissue when you smile, and you are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, you may be a good candidate for crown lengthening. If you would like to learn more about this procedure, please contact our experienced team today.