Gummy smiles, despite the funny name, are no laughing matter. A smile is your way to say hello to the outside world every day, and a gummy smile can have a negative impact on aesthetics and self-confidence. Thankfully, modern cosmetic dentistry offers treatments and procedures that make correction possible. But first, it's helpful to look at some of the causes of a gummy smile.
Teeth grow a lot as an adult matures. Teeth growth throughout the maturation process is normal, but the rate at which crowns expose themselves when the teeth erupt from the gum line varies from person to person. How much the gum and bone tissues shrink after growth to lock the teeth permanently into place also will vary depending on a person's genetics. This is where the abnormalities come into play. Ideal crown length for adults will depend largely on your teeth, but the width to length ratio should also be about 75-85%.
Even though variations in crown length are natural, short crowns will force more of the gum line to be visible. Orthodontic treatment is the easiest method to treat this situation, as it can align the affected teeth to a correct, perfect position. Other procedures, such as bonding, can then be used to restore any lost structure of the tooth.
Short Upper Lip
Lips naturally raise whenever a person smiles, so having a short upper lift which cannot physically cover enough space to hide the gums will create a gummy smile. Because the average lip movement is about 6-8 mm from a resting position to a full on smile, the shorter upper lip has less girth to travel with, thus exposing more gums. Botox is a fairly common treatment method where temporary paralysis is used, or surgery to set how high the lip is can be recommended.
Large Upper Jaw
Upper jaws that might just be too long for your facial structure is part of your genetic code, and usually becomes noticeable in the teenage years. The technical term for this is "Vertical Maxillary Excess", for when the jaw is excessively long compared to the base of your skull. Orthodontic surgery is the most common treatment here, so your jaw can be positioned correctly to decrease the amount of gumminess and/or teeth shown in your smile.
If the curtain of the lip rests up closer to your nose, this will cause more of your gums to be shown when you smile, as it's pulling back the lips at a higher point. This can be fixed with Botox injections as well as very small periodontal procedures to lower the point at which the lip curtain is raised.
Large overbites are a common symptom of gummy smiles as they place the upper teeth in more of a front and center approach, pulling back to the lip somewhat and exposing more of your mouth. Corrective jaw surgery is the most common way to repair this issue, as it is also used with similar dental deformities.
Lips have a standard variation that they raise when you smile, as was discussed earlier. When an upper lip is hyper-mobile, it means it raises up way too far at full smile, revealing all your exposed gum tissue. The common treatment method for this is also Botox, although some find it tedious to repeat the procedure every 6 months to retain form. Cosmetic surgery is the recommended long term option to correct how much the upper lip can move.
Advances in cosmetic dentistry means that you don't have to live with the exact same smile you were born with, and in many cases surgery to correct gummy smiles is very non-invasive. If you are troubled by any of these issues, it's time to see what a cosmetic dentist can do for you.