With today’s trend towards cosmetic procedures, most anything can be “lifted”, including your gums! A gum lift is a highly rewarding procedure for people who have always disliked their “gummy” smile. You’ve seen it–when a person smiles, there is a prominent display of their gums and the teeth appear to be short. Our patients will tell us they have always been self-conscious of their smile and often don’t smile broadly because of their gummy smile. They also feel their teeth are more juvenile in appearance. Often, they think the way to correct this is to have cosmetic dentistry such as veneers or bonding to “lengthen” their teeth. A more predictable, corrective way to fix the problem is a gum lift and it is one of the easiest procedures to fix a gummy smile!
Causes of a Gummy Smile
A gummy smile most often is the result of abnormal eruption of the teeth. This condition is called altered passive eruption. The gums basically fail to recede to their proper position while the teeth are erupting, thus the teeth are covered by excessive gum tissue. This is what gives teeth the appearance of being shorter. Most folks are not aware they actually have more of their natural crown under their gums–they believe they just have “short teeth”. The prevalence of altered passive eruption is about 12-15%.
Other reasons can be the muscle that controls the movement of the upper lip. It could be hyperactive causing the upper lip to rise higher than normal. When this is happening, more of the gum tissue is exposed when smiling.
Also, the way in which the upper jaw bone grew and developed could be another reason for a gummy smile. An example of this would be excessive bulging or protrusion of the upper jaw within the gum tissue. More severe cases could be associated with the hyperplastic growth of the maxillary (upper jaw) skeletal base.
Genetics are most likely the biggest contributing factor to any or all of the causes of a gummy smile.
How To Correct a Gummy Smile
Studies have been done and it appears that it was agreed a minimal amount of gum tissue showing (about two millimeters) was the level where most participants thought the smile looked normal and pleasing. The study members started noticing the gum tissue at three to four millimeters and thought too much gum tissue was showing.
A fairly predictable and easy procedure to fix a gummy smile is a gum lift, also called gum contouring, gum sculpting, crown lengthening and gum leveling to name a few. Basically, the excess tissue is removed and often the bone is reshaped or thinned. Although invasive sounding, this procedure is fairly easy to have done. Most folks are surprised at the minimal amount of discomfort they experience afterwards. Also minimal is down time–people are fairly back to a normal schedule in a just a few days. It can be very exciting to have this done as the results are seen right away!
Other ways a gummy smile can be fixed are lip lowering procedures which re-position the upper lip to make the gum line less exposed. It should be noted that sometimes with a gum lift, the lip will “drape” in a better position, thus resulting in a more relaxed appearance. The drawback of just lowering the lip is that the shape of the teeth are not changed and still have a shorter, juvenile appearance. Botox can be another treatment for a gummy smile however it lasts for a few months. To sustain the result, it requires repeated injections with potentially unending cost. In more severe skeletal causes, orthognathic or jaw surgery is needed in conjunction with orthodontics and/or gum sculpting once completed.
Do you have a gummy smile? Or an uneven gumline? A gum lift could bring the smile you have always wanted! It is easier than you think! See us today for a consultation as this is an area in our office where we specialize. See our beautiful results!