What Causes a Gummy Smile?

Are you unhappy with your smile? Is it your gums that bother you the most? Unfortunately, you are not alone, many American adults are unhappy with the appearance of their gums. In fact, it is estimated that about 14% of women and 7% of men have oversized gums, a condition that is commonly referred to as a gummy smile. The good news is there are cosmetic dental procedures that are designed to fix the appearance of irregular or misshapen gums. Below is more information on what causes gummy smiles and some tips on finding the right treatment solution for you.


What is a Gummy Smile?

A gummy smile is most often defined by appearance, and you likely know one when you see one. A gummy smile is when you smile and there is excessive gum tissue above the top of the teeth. The condition is common among adults and there are a number of causes for the oversized appearance of the gum tissue.


What Causes a Gummy Smile?

There are a many things that can cause a gummy smile. The most common causes, include:


  • Teeth that are short because they did not come in properly and remain partially covered by gum tissue
  • Genetics: either teeth that are small in comparison to the gums, or gums that are larger than the teeth
  • An upper lip that is too short
  • A normal length upper lip that lifts too high when smiling exposing too much gum tissue
    gingival hypertrophy: a condition where gums are long or enlarged
  • An overgrowth of the upper jaw, called vertical maxillary excess, that makes the gums protrude


While there are many possible causes of a gummy smile, all having to do with the gums, teeth, and upper lip, for most individuals the overall cause is genetics. Individuals with a gummy smile have often inherited a genetic trait where their teeth are not proportional to the gums. Unfortunately, if the cause is genetics, there is nothing that can be done to treat the cause of the issue, however there are treatment options available to improve the appearance of the smile and reduce the size of the gums.


Treating A Gummy Smile

There are a several dental treatments that are commonly used to fix a gummy smile. While botox injections are a minimally invasive treatment option, many of the other approaches to treating a gummy smile involve a surgical procedure. Gum contouring, gum lifting or gum reshaping, are all different names for the same cosmetic dentistry procedure used to correct the shape and size of the gums. The gum contouring procedure is fairly quick and easy and only requires a local anesthetic. During the procedure, a dentist uses either a scalpel or a laser to trim away excess gum tissue and reshape the gums. The laser approach is becoming more popular because the laser can efficiently trim away excess tissue, reshape the gums, and seal the tissue all at once resulting in reshaped gums with little bleeding and pain.


Gummy Smile Treatments