Gums. They make up a majority of what we know of our mouth. When you look at your teeth and notice the red/pink portion at the bottom, you are staring at the gumline. An excessive amount of gum is what is known as a gummy smile. Over ⅛ of the population is plagued with this affliction. However, it’s essential to note that in most cases having a more than average about of gum line is entirely okay.

What’s defined as a gummy smile will vary. To be considered “gummy” a dentist will measure the amount of gum you have visible and be covering your teeth. Anything over a ⅛ inch of gum qualifies as a gummy smile. If you are quite unhappy about your smile and worry you are too gummy your dentist will look at the following:

  • The amount of tissue that is displayed
  • The shape and size of your teeth
  • The length or degree of movement from the upper lip
  • The position of the upper jaw (vertical) and the teeth in relation to the skull.


What Causes a Gummy Smile?

Gummy smiles are semi predetermined. Genetics are a primary role in who has a more naturally substantial gum tissue appearance than others. Most individuals concerned with too much gingival display don’t like to discuss the problem and can feel self-conscience about their smile.  Gummy smiles aren’t hard to miss. They have a definite appearance of more than the average amount of gum tissue in the upper jaw. While there are some reasons, a person could have a more fuller than average gum line, genetics seem to play a significant role. However, other causes attributed to the cause known as a gummy smile, including:

  • Shorter than average teeth
  • Shortened teeth due to wear or genetics
  • Shorter upper lip
  • An upper lip that lifts to high when smiling
  • Gingival hypertrophy
  • Vertical Maxillary Excess


Lip Influence

When you look at a smile, yes the teeth play a major role, but the lips will also do wonders for how another person or yourself perceives your smile. When a person has thinner lips, lack of volume, what is going behind their lips will be much more noticeable. The overall placement of your lips and where they naturally lay and move can make a gummy smile appear more prevalent than it usually is, or reduce the appearance of gum tissue depending.


Do braces help with gummy smiles?

If you have been tired of the way your smile looks due to the apparent more substantial gum tissue on display, you probably have wondered what the solution may be. Wanting to fix a gummy smile is entirely reasonable. Afterall the desire to have a proportionate appearance of gum versus teeth is ideal. Just as those who have larger looking teeth and desire more gum appearance, those with more gum tissue require more. But what is the treatment for gummy smiles? Could braces be the solution?

The treatment for gummy smiles will depend on what the cause of the problem is. For those that have excessive gum showing, it may seem due to their bit, or the position of their teeth and jaw bone. Correcting the bite with orthodontic services can help. Kennewick cosmetic dentist services such as Invisalign and braces has shown some success in helping to minimize the appearance of a prominent gum line. Some dental practitioners will use, in combination with braces, a temporary anchorage device. This device is an implant that is inserted into the jaw bone above the teeth to provide a fixed, more stable point to allow more force to be applied.

In more extreme cases, the dentist may have to perform orthognathic surgery to correct the problem. For those that have moderate to severe gummy smiles, the dentist will suggest braces a year before the jaw surgery and up to a year after to ensure the bite is “locked into place.”

Braces can help with the excessive gingival display, in cases where the issue is related to jaw and teeth position issues and in milder cases. But they aren’t the only solution and won’t work for everyone. Treatment is based on the way. So for some patients gingivectomy, veneers, crown lengthening, or Botox may be used.

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