Can I Fix My Gummy Smile?

Many people complain of having a “gummy smile,” medically known as, an excessive gingival display. What does that mean, exactly? For some, it means their teeth look too short when they smile. For others, it means they see too much gum tissue covering their teeth when they look in the mirror. 

There are two main reasons why someone would want to correct their excessive gingival display. Sometimes, an excessive gingival display is simply a physical trait that you believe is not aesthetically pleasing. You may look for ways to correct your gummy smile as you would, for example, look to cosmetically correct the size and/or shape of your nose. In other, more extreme cases, overgrowth of gum tissue on the front teeth can cause serious concerns for the patient that only a dentist or surgeon can correct.

With that said, the answer is YES! — We would be happy to correct your gummy smile. Read on! There’s more to know. 

Symptoms of a Gummy Smile

Gummy smile, aka, excessive gingival display, is a condition where a person can see too much gum tissue when they talk, laugh, or smile. For many people, this is of little or no concern. But for others, this overexposure of gum tissue causes a lack of confidence. 

Some patients report that people tease or bully them, mocking their “baby” teeth. This can lead to serious self-esteem problems, especially in children and adolescents.

An excessive gingival display may affect only one or two teeth. It may also be more generalized, involving all six of the top front teeth. The excessive gum tissue makes the natural teeth look short and stubby.

What Causes a Gummy Smile?

There are many different causes for excessive gingival display. A thorough examination by a dentist can help determine the specific causes and recommend a treatment plan to address your unique situation.

Overgrowth of the gum tissue is one common cause of this condition. This means the gums have grown or swollen so that the tissue covers too much of the front teeth. The most common cause of gum overgrowth is a bacterial infection. A professional cleaning, along with improvement in-home care (brushing and flossing), can reverse this type of infection.

Delayed eruption of the upper teeth during childhood is another common cause of an excessive gingival display. Some upper teeth do not erupt fully during childhood. Instead of extending fully into the mouth, something causes the eruption to stop before the full crown of the tooth comes through the gums.

In some cases of excessive gingival display, rather than the cause of laying with the gums, the problem originates when the teeth are too short. Short teeth may be hereditary (passed down by parents or grandparents), or they could be due to teeth-grinding habits or teeth breakage due to trauma.

Some medications and certain medical conditions can also cause overgrown gums. Medicines that stop seizures, as well as some that treat blood pressure and heart conditions, can cause excessive gingival display. In these cases, the treating medical doctor might be able to substitute another drug that treats the condition without the unwanted side effect of gum overgrowth. In rare cases, conditions like leukemia or diabetes can cause excessive gingival display.

A short upper lip can also cause excessive gingival display, especially in cases where the muscles of the upper lip pull the lip closer to the nose. When this happens, more of the gums are visible when smiling.

Some excessive gingival displays are due to the shape of the upper jawbone. Overgrowth of the bone under the nose that supports the front teeth may cause the teeth to appear short and protruded.

In many cases, excessive gingival display is due to one or more of these factors. Skeletal shape, a short upper lip, slowed eruption, gum swelling, medications, and simply having unusually short teeth are all conditions that may result in an excessive gingival display. Deciding the best treatment depends on finding the underlying cause or causes then making a treatment plan to address them.

Treatment Options For Gummy Smiles

Because of the many causes of excessive gingival display, treatments for this condition vary. First, it is important to schedule a consultation in regards to the various treatment options offered. Once one of our experienced cosmetic dentists examines you to determine the cause of your excessive gingival display, they will thoroughly discuss treatment options and next steps. 

Dentists treat the overgrowth of the gum tissue in several ways. A professional cleaning to remove debris from under the gums is sometimes all that it takes to get the swollen tissue back to normal. Mouth rinses and antibiotics may also help in some cases.

For severe cases of overgrowth, your dentist may need to surgically remove some of the tissue, referred to as “crown lengthening.” They will sculpt the gum tissue back to a pleasing shape and position on the teeth. Most dentists use lasers for this type of excessive gingival display surgery and complete the treatment right in their office.

If your excessive gingival display is due to delayed eruption of your front teeth or unusually short front teeth from grinding or trauma, your dentist will probably recommend crowns to make the teeth longer. Crowns, along with anti-grinding mouthguards, will restore your short teeth to a normal, pleasing length with the gums in a better position.

Cases where the dentist determines that a short upper lip or overgrowth of the upper jawbone are the cause of your excessive gingival display may need more extensive surgery. Oral surgeons and plastic surgeons have several reliable procedures to correct these conditions.

Deciding to Correct Your Gummy Smile

Many people complain about having an excessive gingival display. Diagnosing the causes of this condition is the first step in deciding which treatment is best. Understanding what is causing your excessive gingival display is important so that you can make an informed decision about the treatment to have.

Whether you need a thorough cleaning, crown lengthening, crowns, or procedure for your excessive gingival display, going ahead with a corrective procedure is a decision you will not regret. Having a beautiful, healthy smile is something you deserve. With so many treatment options available, call us at (877)316-4330 to discuss your situation and find out the best way to improve upon that excessive gingival display.