Teeth are extremely important for maintaining our quality of life. They allow us to speak, chew, and smile normally. However, there is also a cosmetic component to our oral health—the appearance of our teeth affects first impressions, self-esteem, and confidence. Missing or broken teeth, discolored and yellowed teeth, or gum irregularities can cause problems, even if the teeth are still functional. One issue that is relatively common is a problem that is often known as a “gummy smile”. Though not a functional issue, many people with a gummy smile seek treatment as the issue causes them embarrassment. Here’s what you need to know about the definition and causes of a gummy smile, as well some treatment suggestions for what can be done to fix the problem.
What is a Gummy Smile?
The term “gummy smile” is an informal term. The issue is more formally known as an excessive gingival display, and it’s purely cosmetic in most cases. A gummy smile occurs when too much gum shows when you smile, sometimes making the teeth appear too small or short in comparison. People with a gummy smile often feel self-conscious about smiling, talking, or laughing in front of others, especially when there is a large amount of exposed gum visible. What constitutes “too much” gum is somewhat subjective, although studies have indicated that the ideal length of gum covering is 2mm or less, while 4mm was considered the least attractive. However, the amount of gum exposed can easily climb to 7+ mm, causing embarrassment for those who suffer from a gummy smile. Since a gummy smile is all cosmetic, it’s up to the patient to determine how much is too much.
Gummy Smile Causes
So why do some people have more gum showing than others? There are actually several reasons a gummy smile can develop. Often, it is due to abnormalities in how the teeth have erupted or how the upper jaw has developed. If the teeth did not erupt normally, they could still be covered by excess gum, even into adulthood. Or, the upper jaw could be protruding more than it should. Some patients can also simply have shorter teeth in comparison to the amount of gum, which is a genetic tendency. Sometimes, the problem isn’t the gums and teeth themselves—it’s actually the upper lip. The upper lip can be hyperactive and pull back too far when smiling or talking, causing the appearance of a gummy smile. Oral hygiene isn’t a factor in developing a gummy smile, so the condition cannot be prevented, unfortunately.
Even though a gummy smile is almost always a simple cosmetic issue, there are some exceptions. If the teeth and jaw did not develop properly, there could be problems with the bite and the overall function of the teeth. Before you seek cosmetic treatment for a gummy smile, it’s important to ensure that there aren’t any serious problems that need to be addressed. Your dentist will help you determine what course of treatment is best in your case.
If you’re embarrassed by a gummy smile, the good news is that there are two procedures that can help alleviate the problem: crown lengthening and lip repositioning. Crown lengthening is best for addressing a gummy smile caused by short teeth or poor eruption, while lip repositioning can help reduce the width of the visible gum line above the teeth.
Choose the Right Provider
Many dentists don’t offer these specialized procedures, so it’s important to seek out an expert you can trust for your gummy smile rejuvenation. Drs. Gallardo are known for their skill in treating gum conditions and offer patients the most cutting-edge options available. If you would like to schedule an appointment with our experts in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today!