Sometimes, an excessive amount of gum tissue when you smile can cause self-confidence issues and can prevent patients from wanting to show off their best smile. The good news is that this condition may be treatable by your dentist.
What is a Gummy Smile?
A smile with more than two millimetres of exposed gum normally qualifies as a gummy smile. There can be many reasons for this type of smile, including:
- Short or hyperactive upper lip muscles, which results in the lifting of the lip upwards.
- Unusual or altered eruptions of the tooth or teeth during childhood
- The upper teeth moving downward
- Excessive growth of the upper jawbone
There are three main treatment options for a gummy smile: crown lengthening, botulinum toxin (BT) injections, and orthodontic treatment & surgery. Your dentist will discuss these options with you, and develop a treatment plan that may include one or more of them, depending on your unique needs.
A crown lengthening procedure involves removing some of the gum tissue to expose more of the tooth. This can be a one or two-part procedure, depending on the patient's situation. The first part consists of removing the gum tissue while the second part of the procedure involves sculpting the gum line to make it go up higher. This second stage, sculpting the gum line, will usually be done by a periodontist.
Your dental team will discuss your treatment process with you before getting started to ensure you understand the process and can make an informed decision.
Botulinum Toxin (BT) Injections
It's natural to think of botox injections as a treatment for wrinkles and fine lines, but they can be used for dental treatments as well.
Botox can be useful for gummy smile treatments as it can dull overactive upper lip muscles. Treatment normally involves very small injections over the course of three to six months. After this treatment is done, injections must be repeated every six months to a year.
Orthodontic Treatment or Surgery
If the gummy smile is being caused by excessive growth of the upper jaw bone, then orthodontic treatment and surgery may be required. An orthodontist might use a special appliance to push the teeth upward in order to correct the issue. If necessary, they may also work with a team of dental surgeons to surgically move the teeth upwards.