A gummy smile is one in which an excessive amount of upper gum tissue is revealed when a person smiles or laughs. In addition, the gum line can appear uneven. This is in contrast to a normal smile. A normal smile displays little gum, and the visible tissue looks even and balanced in relation to the upper lip. The gummy smile makes the upper teeth look too short, although in reality, the teeth are often normal-sized but “hiding” under the gums.
Excess gum tissue can sometimes be detrimental to periodontal health by impeding cleansability. Even when they’re not, a gummy smile can make people feel self-conscious and unattractive, reluctant to smile, laugh, or even talk.
Fortunately, correction of a gummy smile is readily available and quite effective. The first step is to determine the specific cause of the patient’s gummy smile. Here at Loop Perio, our team of dental care experts can help you today!
CAUSES OF GUMMY SMILE
It’s possible the gummy smile has resulted from the manner in which the upper jaw developed. Too much upper gum tissue is present, and in consequence, too much such tissue is exposed when the patient smiles.
A very common cause is that the upper teeth erupted in such a way that gum tissue covers them for too much of their length.
A gummy smile can also result from difficulties with the muscle governing the movement of the upper lip. If the muscle is too active, it can pull the upper lip back too far and expose more gum tissue than is desirable.
Finally, the teeth may indeed be undersized compared to the size of the jaw inherited. Jaw size inherited from one parent and tooth size from another may produce either an excessively gummy smile or generalized recession if the jaw size is smaller and the teeth comparatively are larger in size.
A dental examination will discover the reason for a specific individual’s gummy smile. In all likelihood, this will involve x-rays to examine the jawbone and the roots of the teeth.
Once the dentist knows the precise cause of the patient’s gummy smile, he can refer him or her to the appropriate specialist or specialists for the indicated treatment. A periodontist can reshape the upper gum tissue, but if that alone won’t resolve the problem, the patient may receive additional treatments as well.
FORMS OF GUMMY SMILE TREATMENT
GUM CONTOURING AND CROWN LENGTHENING
By removing gum tissue and reshaping the bone around the teeth, a periodontist reveals more of the length of the teeth. At the same time, the periodontist evens out the gum line as required. This makes the teeth look more in proportion with the rest of the face and so transforms a gummy smile into a normal, attractive smile. In less severe cases, laser surgery may be an option. One advantage to using a diode laser is that the gummy smile treatment seals blood vessels as it goes, and as a result, there’s very little bleeding.
Whether the periodontist uses a laser or not, he or she administers a local anesthetic before surgery begins, and thus the gummy smile treatment is painless. The gums may be slightly swollen or tender for a few days or up to a week afterward, but the patient can usually manage any discomfort with over-the-counter medication and should experience no difficulty carrying on with normal activities. Dissolvable stitches are generally used for the gummy smile treatment. The patient leaves the office with a total smile makeover that same day!
ORTHODONTIC GUMMY SMILE TREATMENT
In a case where the smile is gummy because the teeth protrude or are positioned incorrectly, the patient may need to wear an orthodontic appliance to reposition them. This process generally takes 18 months to two years. When it’s complete, a periodontist may then re-sculpt the gums to create the final desired smile.