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It’s safe to say that we all know someone with a gummy smile. And those who have a gummy smile typically fall into two camps: those who feel less-than-confident in their grin and those who like their smile as-is.

But what do dentists and orthodontists say about gummy smiles? Is a gummy smile an issue that should be treated? Most dental professionals would agree that unless there’s an oral health issue related to your gummy smile, fixing it is a matter of personal preference. But if you want to know how to fix a gummy smile, we’re happy to answer that here!  

What Is A Gummy Smile?

So what is a gummy smile exactly? According to a study that included dentists, plastic surgeons, dermatologists and the public, a gummy smile is four millimeters — just over ⅛ inch — or more of upper gums showing in a smile. Study participants started noticing the gums at three millimeters. By four millimeters, they felt the harmony between gums and teeth wasn’t esthetically pleasing. 

Dr. Okuda and his team at Okuda Orthodontics have seen their fair share of gummy smiles. Also called a “gingival smile” or “excessive gingival display,” a gummy smile appears in about 14% of women and 7% of men. However, experts believe these numbers might be higher, as these rates are recorded cases only. 

What Causes Gummy Smiles? 

It may be called a “gummy smile,” but a grin with extra gums isn’t caused by your gums alone. What causes a gummy smile is how the gums, teeth, lips and jaw work together. Your Henderson, NV orthodontist considers the following factors when diagnosing and treating a gummy smile:

The length and shape of your upper lip. More of your upper gums might show when you smile if you have a thin upper lip. 

How your upper lip moves when you smile. A gingival smile might happen if you have a hypermobile lip — one that moves up more than 6-8 millimeters when you smile.

The size and shape of your teeth. Ideally, crown length — the visible part of the tooth — is about 10 millimeters, or almost a ½ inch. And the width of teeth is typically about 75-85% of their crown length. However, sometimes you inherit smaller-than-normal teeth, which impacts your teeth-to-gums ratio.

Excessive wear on your teeth. It’s normal for a lifetime of chewing to wear down your teeth. But excessive wear can make your teeth incrementally shorter, affecting how well you bite and chew. Worn-down teeth naturally try to compensate by “growing” — they start to erupt very slowly towards the opposing teeth, attempting to maintain a functional relationship with them. As teeth move, the gums they’re attached to follow and become elongated, making them more visible when you smile.

Excessive gum tissue. Sometimes excess gum tissue covers the tops of your teeth, leading to the appearance of more gums to teeth.

The vertical alignment or misalignment of the upper jaw and teeth with your upper face. Called “maxillary excess,” this issue is an overgrowth of the upper jaw that makes your gums bulge out or sit lower from the upper face. As a result, it’s harder for your upper lip to cover your upper gums when you smile.

How to Fix a Gummy Smile

Your Henderson, NV orthodontist, Dr. Okuda, knows how to fix your gummy smile. Haven’t visited Okuda Orthodontics before? We welcome you with a complimentary initial consultation to examine your gummy smile and talk about how we can turn your gingival smile into one you’re confident to show off.

Options we might discuss for how to fix a gummy smile include:

  • Braces to fix a gummy smile  
  • BOTOX®
  • Surgery
  • Gum reshaping with laser treatment
  • Cosmetic treatment like crowns and veneers

Braces or Clear Aligners To Fix A Gummy Smile

Can braces fix a gummy smile? Yes, orthodontics can change a gummy smile you’re not fond of into a smile you love. If Dr. Okuda sees that you have a bad bite, he might siggest braces or clear aligners like Invisalign® to align your bite into the ideal position. Well-aligned jaws can reduce the amount of gums visible in a smile and fix other issues like jaw pain, problems with eating and chewing, and speech issues. 

BOTOX® for a Gummy Smile

Botox is a quick, go-to treatment that addresses many cosmetic concerns, gummy smiles included! If you’re looking for BOTOX in Las Vegas, you’ll be happy to know you can receive it at Okuda Orthodontics: Dr. Okuda is trained and certified to administer it. And as an orthodontist, he brings expertise in facial anatomy to his BOTOX practice, helping patients achieve their best smiles.  

How does BOTOX for a gummy smile work? BOTOX paralyzes your upper lip muscles — the ones that activate your smile. When these muscles relax with BOTOX, they don’t contract and move upwards as they usually would when you smile. As a result, your upper lip doesn’t rise as much to expose your gums. 

As with all BOTOX treatments, BOTOX for a gummy smile isn’t a permanent fix; you’ll need to maintain it periodically. Treatment typically lasts about 3-4 months but lasts a little longer with every treatment.

Gummy Smile Surgery

A permanent solution for a gummy smile is surgery. A doctor might suggest severing the muscles that elevate the upper lip when you smile, resulting in a lip that won’t rise as high. If your gummy smile is due to maxillary excess, we might suggest orthognathic surgery. This jaw surgery involves repositioning the upper jaw upward and securing it in its new spot with plates and screws. It’s typically a lengthy process that can take up to two years and pairs surgery with orthodontic treatment.

Reshaping your gums with laser treatment

When a gummy smile is due to small, short teeth or excessive gums, your Las Vegas orthodontist might suggest laser treatment. A laser removes excess gum tissue covering the tops of your upper teeth, exposing more of your teeth and reducing the gums.

Crowns and veneers

Veneers or crowns that change your teeth’s visible appearance can make a gingival smile a thing of the past. Veneers and crowns give your smile a new look and improve your tooth-to-gum ratio.

No More Gummy Smiles with Okuda Orthodontics

Want to say goodbye to your gummy smile? Our Henderson, NV team offers exceptional service to help you achieve the confident smile you’ve always wanted.

Contact us today for an in-person or virtual appointment to get started!

Dr. Okuda

Author Dr. Okuda

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