How to Fix a Gummy Smile

Bothered by a “gummy smile”? You’re not alone. An estimated 15 percent of women and 7 percent of men are treated for excessive gum tissue or small teeth that can lead to a less than perfect smile. According to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, 569,160 gingivectomies were performed in 2006 – a procedure that reduces extra gum tissue. For many patients, this cosmetic laser treatment has offered a quick and easy solution to feelings of embarrassment and self-consciousness stemming from a gummy smile.

What constitutes a gummy smile?

Two to three millimeters of gum tissue above the tooth line is considered “normal” and the most aesthetically pleasing to the untrained eye. Individuals who have more than three or four millimeters of exposed gum tissue have what most cosmetic dentists would consider a gummy smile. Having a disproportionate tooth-to-gum ratio is not uncommon. In fact, it’s a normal anatomical variation that can result from several factors.

A gummy smile can be caused by:

  • A strong upper lip muscle that rises up more than usual when smiling
  • Hyperplasia of the gum tissue triggered by drugs such as Cyclosporine or calcium channel blockers
  • Orthodontic treatments that cause excessive gum tissue
  • Poor dental restorations
  • Dental malocclusion
  • Chronic inflammation stemming from poor dental hygiene
  • Hereditary disposition
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Developmental issues with the upper jaw bone

Fix your gummy smile with laser dental surgery

If you dislike your gummy smile and are ready for a change, there are several treatment options available: laser gingivectomy, crown lengthening and Botox injections. Here at Long Island Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry, Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot will suggest a treatment modality that is most appropriate for your particular case. This will take into account the amount of excess gum tissue that is present when smiling, the movement of your upper lip, as well as your jaw bone anatomy.

In our practice, a gingivectomy is one of the most effective ways to fix a gummy smile. It’s a relatively simple procedure that uses a dental laser to gently contour gum tissue around the teeth. The treatment is virtually painless, requires no anesthesia and patients are fully healed within 14 days.

More severe gummy smiles may call for crown lengthening surgery, where the gingival tissue is lifted off the bone (which is slightly modified). After contouring, the gum tissue is then repositioned over the bone in such a manner that the teeth appear more prominent.

Lastly, some practitioners are using Botox injections in the upper lip’s elevator muscles to help prevent gummy smiles. This off-label use, according to studies, is relatively safe and effective, but the results only last four to five months.

Long Island cosmetic dentists

Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot have been using laser dentistry in Suffolk County for nearly 20 years, achieving excellent, natural-looking results for patients who suffer from a gummy smile. To learn more about our innovative solutions for smile makeovers, we invite you to schedule a free consultation by dialing (631) 296-0602.

Resources:

  1. New York Times, Bothered by a ‘Gummy Smile’ http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/31/bothered-by-a-gummy-smile/
  2. Web MD, Gingivectomy for Gum Disease, http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/gingivectomy-for-gum-disease

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Ava Lawson

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