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Gummy smile: what it is, causes and how to fix it

23 November · 3 minutes

Sometimes straightening your teeth isn’t quite enough to show them off confidently. Having a smile that shows a lot of gums can make people feel uncomfortable or insecure, causing them not to show their teeth with confidence. This is known as a gummy smile, gummy teeth or gingival smile and, although many people have it, few know that it can be corrected.

In this article we will explain in detail what a gingival smile is, the different types that exist, and its causes. In addition, we’ll touch on the different treatments that exist to fix it and how Impress can help you show your teeth with pride.

What is a gummy smile?

The gummy smile, also known as the gummy teeth or gingival smile, occurs in people who have disproportionately more gums than teeth. In people with a gingival smile, an excess of gum is seen when they smile, making the teeth appear smaller.

It’s purely aesthetic and, therefore, subjective, but generally when a patient shows more than two millimeters of gum when smiling, it’s considered a gingival smile.

Types of gummy smile

Now that you know what a gummy smile is, we cover the different types of gummy smiles depending on either the millimeters of visible gums or where it occurs.

Types of gummy smile according to the millimeters of visible gums

Depending on the amount of gums that is visible when smiling, the case can be categorized into one of three types of gummy smile:

Mild gummy smile

Mild gummy smiles occur in people who show two to four millimeters of gums. The visible gum is not excessive, so it normally does not alter the aesthetics of the smile.

Moderate gummy smile

This type of gingival smile is one that shows between four and six millimeters of the gums when smiling.

Severe gummy smile

Patients who show more than six millimeters of gums when smiling with their teeth have a severe gummy smile. This overexposure of the gums is the one that alters the smile the most.

Types of gummy smile depending on where it occurs

As previously mentioned, we can also classify the types of gummy smiles according to the part of the mouth in which the gum exposure is greatest.

Anterior gummy smile

Anterior gummy smile is one in which the gum shows excessively over the incisors and canines.

Posterior gummy smile

Posterior gummy smile is the one that shows the gum located from the first premolar backwards.

Mixed gummy smile

The mixed gummy smile is one that shows the gum in the front and back of the mouth.

Girl revealing her gummy smile.

What causes a gummy smile and why do I have it?

According to the types above, maybe you’ve realized that you might have a gummy smile; so you might be wondering, why do I have it? The causes of a gummy smile can be very diverse and can be affected by different factors. Below we list the most common ones:

  • Altered passive eruption: irregularities occur when the teeth grow in or ‚Äúerupt‚ÄĚ and the dental crown is covered by the gum. When this is the cause of the gummy smile, the teeth are short and square.
  • Long jaw: this skeletal problem occurs in patients with vertical overgrowth of the upper jaw. Generally, it will also cause a malocclusion, or problem with the bite.
  • Induced gingiva: this is caused by plaque buildup or certain drugs cause an enlargement of the gum.
  • Short or highly mobile upper lip: this occurs in cases in which the upper lip is short or moves excessively upward, excessively exposing more of the gums.
  • Low dental position: this is when the upper incisors ‚Äúover erupt‚ÄĚ because they have no contact with the lower ones.

In the most common causes of a gummy smile, the genetic factor plays an important role. Therefore, if you are wondering why you have a gummy smile, the answer might be partially hereditary, but also with other factors at play.

How to fix a gummy smile: different treatments for its correction

Now that we’ve gone over the causes of the gummy smile, there are different gum smile treatments that can be used to fix a gummy smile depending on its origin. An accurate diagnosis of the gummy smile is important to choose the most appropriate correction option for each case.

Lip injections for gummy smile correction

When a gummy smile is caused by a short or hypermobile upper lip, it can be corrected with a lip injection using hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid for gummy smiles controls lip movement and prevents it from rising too high when smiling, thus masking the gummy teeth.

Orthognathic surgery to correct the gummy smile

Orthognathic surgery is the most complex gummy smile correction treatment. This surgery is used in cases of gummy smiles caused by a long upper jaw. With this intervention, cuts are made in the bones to move the upper jaw and move it vertically upward.

Myotomy as a solution for gummy smile

Myotomy is a treatment for correcting a gummy smile that consists of weakening the muscle that elevates the upper lip. This muscle is located between the lip and the gum, and by weakening it, it reduces the elevation of the lip and therefore covers the gums more, reducing the gummy smile.

Gummy smile botox

Doctor putting botox on a patient's upper lip.

Botox is another solution for gummy smiles in which the problem is not bone or dental. Gummy smile botox is used in cases caused by a hypermobile or short lip. Botox helps the lip exert less force and, therefore, less gums are visible.

Gingivectomy for gummy smile

For cases of gummy smile caused by altered passive eruption, gingivoplasty and gingivectomy for gummy smile are the solutions. Gingivectomy is a surgical periodontal procedure that trims the gum so that the adjacent tooth is more visible, making for less of a gummy smile. Furthermore, gingivoplasty is a complementary procedure to gingivectomy with a purely aesthetic purpose. In the latter, the objective is to outline the contour of the gum around the tooth.

Gummy smile correction with braces and other orthodontics

The solution to correct the gummy smile caused by a low dental position is with orthodontics, like braces. Gummy smile correction with orthodontics allows the teeth to be brought into the proper position and thus correcting the origin of the gummy smile.

Care for and protect your teeth with Impress

If you need help correcting your gummy smile, Impress is a great option. We offer orthodontic treatments, but also procedures such as gingivectomies and gingivoplasties or botox injections, which can help you improve your gummy smile. Find out about all the services we offer at your nearest Impress clinic.

If you are interested in knowing how Impress can help you solve your gummy smile, come to your nearest Impress clinic and you will be able to meet the team of professionals who will supervise your treatment. You can schedule a free consultation by shooting us an email at careteam@uniformteeth.com, by calling us at 888.490.1421, or by booking online.

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Frequently asked questions about Gummy Smile

Is a gummy smile attractive or unattractive?

The perception of whether the gummy smile is attractive or unattractive is totally subjective. Some people find their gummy smile attractive, while others prefer to treat it.

Why is the gummy smile popularly known as ‚Äúfianc√© gums‚ÄĚ?

Although it has no scientific basis, the expression ‚Äúfianc√© gums‚ÄĚ is used to refer to people with a gummy smile. Additionally, people with gummy smiles are popularly said to be engaged.

Does an overbite cause a gummy smile?

An overbite does sometimes cause a gummy smile, although less common. It occurs when the teeth of the upper arch significantly overlap those of the lower arch, making the teeth appear smaller and the gums more visible when smiling.

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