Your smile is an extension of you. When you meet a friend, find something funny, or just want to show the world you’re feeling good, your smile acts as a window into your mind. That’s why a smile that causes insecurity or embarrassment can feel like a major problem. One of the most common sources of this insecurity is a gummy smile.
What is a gummy smile?
A gummy smile is a smile that shows more of someone’s gums than they’re comfortable with. Studies have estimated that around 10% of adults in their twenties feel their smiles are too gummy. Gummy smiles are fixable, but before we get into treatments, let’s discuss what causes them.
What causes a gummy smile?
Some gummy smiles are the result of poor oral hygiene, but others are a simple result of genetics. It’s important to treat them on a case-by-case basis. The main causes of gummy smiles include:
Dental hygiene problems
When some people take care of their mouths, they focus on their teeth to the exclusion of their gums. It’s important to remember that good oral hygiene involves all parts of the mouth.
Sometimes, when plaque builds up on your teeth, it can migrate to spaces beneath your gums. This can create a vicious cycle. Excess plaque can inflame your gums and make them swell, making it increasingly difficult to remove. Sometimes the areas become painful to clean, discouraging patients from fixing the problem. If your smile is gummy due to inflammation, you might be able to fix the problem through better oral hygiene care.
Just like with all aspects of your appearance, your genetics are the key factor in the way your smile looks. If your top and bottom jaws don’t properly align, the resulting ‘bad bite’ can cause a gummy smile. It can also cause crooked teeth and jaw pain. Most commonly, a bad bite causes the upper jaw to protrude too far, resulting in the gummy smile.
Some people also have hyperactive upper lips, a condition in which the upper lip muscles are overused, leading to the overexposure of gums. Others simply have more gum tissue than the average person, creating an overgrowth which covers too much of the teeth.
Altered tooth eruption (ATE)
Tooth eruption is the developmental process of teeth emerging from gums and entering the mouth. When some teeth don’t properly emerge, the resultant situation of altered tooth eruption can make smiles appear gummier because the teeth are still partially covered by gums.
Can braces fix a gummy smile?
If a bad bite or another jaw issue is the root cause of your gummy smile, braces might be your best option. Braces will not only improve the aesthetics of your smile, they can also solve a host of other problems associated with misaligned teeth. When your teeth are straightened, your gums will often show less.
Our clinic offers both traditional orthodontics and Invisalign to those who don’t like the appearance of braces. Talk to one of our specialists about whether orthodontic treatment might be right for your gummy smile.
Can veneers fix a gummy smile?
If there are no major structural or developmental problems at the root of your gummy smile, your best option might be veneers or crowns. These small, thin, porcelain shells are installed over your teeth to cover imperfections. They are a purely aesthetic treatment, so they are best for gummy smiles caused by simple genetics. Veneers can make your teeth seem longer or larger, skewing the tooth-to-gum ratio to something you’ll appreciate more.
Fix your smile with gum reshaping
Gum reshaping, also known as gum recontouring, is a procedure done to resculpt your gum line and create a more desirable tooth-to-gum ratio. Traditional reshaping involved scalpels and other manual tools to cut away and remove excess tissue from your guns, but modern laser dentistry has transformed reshaping into a quick, virtually painless procedure.
To begin treatment, your dentist applies a local anesthetic to numb the gums and minimize discomfort. Next, they will use a soft tissue laser to gently remove and re-sculpt the gum tissue to achieve the desired shape and size.
Thanks to the laser’s precision, your dentist is able to create a uniform and symmetrical gum line without damaging the surrounding tissue. Additionally, the laser cauterizes the gums to stop bleeding, minimizing healing time and the risk of infection.
Botox for gummy smiles
If your gummy smile is rooted in a hyperactive upper lip, Botox offers a potential solution. Botox can be injected into your upper lip, which will limit its range of movement. This minimally invasive procedure will prevent your lip from extending upward as much as usual and keep your gums covered, offering you a more agreeable tooth-to-gum ratio.
Botox injections are a quick and simple solution to some gummy smiles, but they will require you to return for a follow up procedure after they wear off. This generally takes between three and six months.
Contact Cobblestone Dentistry
To learn more about how we can help you fix your gummy smile, schedule an appointment with Cobblestone Park Dentistry. Contact our Oklahoma City office by calling (405) 603-8520 or emailing us today.