Gummy Smiles

Ever watch TV or movies and notice that one of the actors and actresses show a lot of gums when they smile? This is something we as orthodontists consider when we are treatment planning as braces can either increase or decrease gum display on smiles, depending on what the patient’s goal is.

A normal, attractive amount of gums to show beneath the upper lip when smiling is 0-1mm for men and 1-2mm for women. This of course is subjective because as they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

A common concern patients come to an orthodontist for is the appearance of their gummy smile. There are 3 common factors that can cause a person to have one:

1) The upper jaw (Maxilla) is too tall.

2) The upper lip muscles are hyperactive. Think enthusiastic actor on Broadway.

3) The gums are growing too far down the tooth.

There are of course orthodontic treatments for all depending on the reason why the smile is gummy in the first place. For the first reason of the maxilla being too tall, it is best to correct the jaw itself. This can be done with a combination of braces and jaw surgery to reduce the vertical length of the jaw. With the second case, hyperactive lip muscles can be calmed down with periodic botox injections. Lastly, excessive gums can be corrected with a gum recontouring procedure called a “gingivectomy”.

It all starts with a consult with an orthodontic professional to determine the best course of action for your particular case. Like the patients themselves, no two orthodontic treatments are the same.

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