If you feel embarrassed about your “gummy smile,” you are not alone. In fact, it is estimated that around 14 percent of women and 7 percent of men have excessive gum tissue. The visual impact of this excessive tissue is that of small teeth and long gums.
Cosmetic dentists widely agree that an ideal smile shows about two millimeters of gum and anything over three or four millimeters will start looking like a “gummy smile.” While patients may not be experiencing any specific health issues related to this condition, many people feel a sense of embarrassment and self-consciousness.
That’s because gums that obscure the crowns of teeth not only appear to make teeth look smaller, but can also cause them to appear to have an odd shape. The benefits of correcting this issue are not only cosmetic. Many patients find that they feel more comfortable and confident smiling, eating and talking.
People looking to remedy the situation often don’t know where to begin, or what the cause might even be. Below, we’ll look at some of the common causes as well as the diagnosis process.
Diagnosis of This Condition
Unlike other dental conditions, diagnosis of a gummy smile can be a bit subjective. While there are generally accepted rules over what is considered an “ideal” amount of gum that shows in the smile, your self-perception will play a major role in the diagnosis process. When it comes to cosmetic dentistry, the primary objective is helping patients feel better about themselves and let them smile without embarrassment.
The important aspect of diagnosis is determining the cause of a patient’s gummy smile. Once this is determined, the dentist can recommend the proper correction.
Are Gums the Only Cause?
No. Sometimes, the appearance of a gummy smile is not the result of excessive gum tissue. Small teeth can give the appearance of showing too much gum in the smile. Another common cause is a short upper lip that doesn’t stretch down far enough, exposing too much gum tissue.
Determining the exact cause of your gummy smile will require consultation with an experienced cosmetic dentist. Once you have a good idea of what is causing your gummy smile, you’ll get a better idea of how to treat the issue. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most common causes of a gummy smile.
- Patient has a short upper lip that does not adequately cover the gums and upper teeth
- A lip that moves too much
- Excessive overbite
- Gums are too long and cover too much of the tooth
What Can Be Done About a Gummy Smile?
Correcting this issue is done quite frequently by cosmetic dentists. Well over half-a-million procedures are performed every year to reduce gum tissue and provide an ideal tooth-to-gum ratio. Common treatment options include surgical sculpting of the gingival tissue and bone, which creates an attractive and healthy looking smile.
Minor cases can sometimes be treated in a single day with laser therapy. Your cosmetic dentist may also choose to perform a crown lengthening procedure to remove excessive gum tissue and expose more of the surface of a tooth.
Below, you’ll find an explanation of a few of the most common treatments explained in a little more detail.
Laser Sculpting: In minor cases, a gummy smile can be treated with laser therapy in a single day. This option is less painful and has a faster healing period. However, it will not work in every case. More severe instances will require a more in-depth procedure.
Surgical Gum Sculpting: With this procedure, the gums are surgically sculpted to remove gum tissue in more severe cases. This may also involve modifying the underlying bone. Gum tissue is then contoured and repositioned. Teeth will appear longer and less gum tissue will show when the patient smiles.
Surgical Lip Repositioning: This is another surgical procedure in which the top lip is lowered so it covers more gum when the patient smiles. This procedure will contribute to a natural, more healthy and attractive smile.
Which Treatment is Right for You?
Of course, the best way to choose which treatment will work best for you is to schedule an appointment with an experienced and reputable cosmetic dentist. The above-mentioned treatments are only a small example of the treatment options available and to really get a good idea of what will work for you will require a thorough examination and consultation.
You’ll also learn what is causing your gummy smile, whether it is excessive gum tissue, small teeth, a short upper lip or something else. Thanks to advancements in modern dentistry, there is a solution for virtually any dental flaw.
Whatever the cause might be, there are many options available for treatment and your cosmetic dentist will help set you on the right course toward recovery. There’s no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed when it comes to discussing these issues with a professional. After all, this is nothing your dentist hasn’t seen before.