When you open your mouth to smile, do your prominent gum tissues eclipse your teeth? If you feel like your gums make your teeth look too short, you could have a condition that’s known as a gummy smile. Fortunately, there are many cosmetic dental treatments that can treat your gummy smile, giving you a more proportional and aesthetically pleasing smile. There are many causes of gummy smiles and many treatment options available. Most dentist will choose the appropriate course of treatment, depending on your unique cosmetic condition.
What is a Gummy Smile?
In the dental community, we consider gummy smiles as “excessive display of gingival tissue,” in which gingival refers to tissue relating to gum tissue. Gingival tissue is an important dental structure, since it is responsible for keeping your teeth tightly retained in your mouth.
While most patient concerns with gummy smiles are aesthetic, too much gingival display can also be caused from underlying dental concerns, like abnormal jaw development, improper bites, or irregular teeth eruption.
Fortunately, a gummy smile will not negatively impact how you eat or talk, but it can negatively impact the appearance of your smile. If you have a gummy smile, or feel like your smile isn’t aesthetically attractive, there are a number of cosmetic treatment options that can help fix your gummy smile.
Causes of a Gummy Smile
Most frequently, gummy smiles are caused by high lip lines. A high lip line occurs when you smile, and your upper lip moves higher than the average person’s. The average lip line only shows the teeth in the upper jaw, and the small bit of gum extending between the teeth. In patients with high lip lines, their smiles show all of the upper teeth, and a lot of the gingival tissue.
Another cause of a gummy smile is abnormal eruption of permanent teeth. Abnormal eruption of permanent teeth can cause more gum tissue to develop around the new teeth, making them look shorter, even if they are the normal length. Gummy smiles can also be caused from improper muscle control. The muscle that controls your upper lip can be hyperactive, causing your top lip to rise higher than average when you smile.
Treatment Options for Gummy Smiles
Before deciding on the right treatment option for you, we will need to assess your smile to determine what is causing your excessive display of gingival tissue. A skilled cosmetic dentist will first determine your smile line by taking into account your facial muscles, gum tissue, and teeth size to determine the most balanced way to contour your smile line.
During your initial consultation, we will also take x-ray imaging of your teeth and jawbone and most likely take impressions of your teeth and gums. Depending on the condition of your gummy smile, we will most likely suggest one of the following crown lengthening treatments:
● Laser periodontal treatment. Laser periodontal treatments are recommended when a patient’s gummy smile is caused by excess gingival tissue covering the teeth. Laser periodontal treatments fix gummy smiles by repositioning the gum tissue to increase the length of the dental crown and create a more symmetrical gum line. Dental lasers are an effective way to cut away excessive gum tissue with minimal recovery time. Laser periodontal treatment also causes less discomfort than traditional treatments.
● Surgical Lip Repositioning. Lip repositioning surgery is recommended when the top jaw is overdeveloped, or the lip is positioned too high when smiling. Lip repositioning procedures work by restricting the movement of the upper lip. It is a straightforward treatment, only taking about 30 minutes to an hour to perform. The benefits of lip repositioning treatments can be seen immediately.
● Gum contouring treatment. Gum contouring is a common treatment used to reduce the gumline and display more of the teeth. Gum contouring is often recommended to treat gummy smiles, as well as removing periodontal pockets caused by gum disease. During a gum contouring treatment, we remove parts of the gum tissue and/or bone to display more of the teeth, lengthening the appearance of the crown. We will need to make incisions that pull the gums away from the teeth, exposing the roots and surrounding teeth, then surgically stitch the area back together. Traditional gum contouring treatments are slightly more invasive than laser periodontal treatments.
Depending on your dental health and the condition of your gummy smile, we will be able to map out a treatment to improve the size of your crowns, making your smile more proportional and beautiful. Ready to schedule an appointment to treat your gummy smile? Call our office today.