A gummy smile results when more gum tissue than the teeth are shown when a person smiles; in this case, the smile looks awkward as the teeth become smaller in size when compared to the gum tissue. Regardless of how bright the teeth are, the smile can become less attractive and can look abnormal – when more gum tissue than usual is shown. A smile looks healthy when it shows a normal amount of teeth and not too much of the gum tissue.
Smiles that show more of the gums (compared to the teeth) can be caused by a variety of factors. A short upper lip does not provide enough coverage for the upper portion of the mouth, leaving most of the gums and the teeth exposed even at times when the lips should be fully closed. A hyperactive lip elevator muscle also causes the upper lip to unsuccessfully provide cover for the upper teeth. Teeth that are worn out can look unnaturally small, causing the gums to look even bigger in comparison. The gums will also look bigger compared to teeth that have not fully come out from under the gum line. Genetics also play a role in cases when all of the teeth are naturally small, making the gums stand out when the mouth is opened or when one smiles.
Treatment for gummy smiles will depend on which factor is causing the problem. In cases when most or all of the teeth are naturally small, a laser gum re-shaping procedure can be done; the gums will be reduced or altered in appearance so that more of the teeth structure shows upon smiling or upon opening the mouth. This treatment will safely and efficiently be completed using laser technology.
For cases when the upper lip is short and does not completely cover the teeth even at rest, lip surgery can be done to address the issue. This treatment for a gummy smile results to more of the upper teeth being covered by the upper lip, so that only a healthy portion of the gums are visible when smiling or opening the mouth.
In cases when the gummy smile is caused by a hyperactive lip elevator muscle, a botox (botulinum toxin) treatment will be done to relax the affected muscle; this causes the muscle to stop the hyperactivity so that the upper lip can fully cover more of the gum (and upper teeth) structures.