Posts for tag: gummy smile
We instinctively know an attractive smile when we see one. But although our perceptions are subjective ("in the eye of the beholder"), there are understood aesthetic principles that shape them. For smiles in particular, proportionality is one such principle.
More specifically, an attractive smile's visible gum tissue should be proportional to its visible tooth surface. If the gum amount exceeds this, then the smile will appear too "gummy." There's no set measurement, per se, but most dentists peg it at around four millimeters—just over an 1/8 of an inch—or more.
Fortunately, there are options for improving a "gummy" smile. Notice that we said "options," plural: That's because over-exposed gums can occur due to a variety of causes.
Obviously, an actual over-abundance of gum tissue could be one of those causes. It might also result, however, from the teeth appearing and being too small, less than 10 mm of visible crown length, because the teeth are in themselves abnormally small or they failed to erupt completely during development.
There are also causes beyond the actual teeth and gums. The upper lip may move too far upward while smiling—a problem known as hypermobility—revealing too much gum tissue. The upper jaw may also appear too long because of the position of its attachment to the base of the skull. This in turn might result in too much gum tissue displaying while smiling.
Uncovering a gummy smile's underlying cause thus determines the right treatment to pursue. For oversized gums or undersized teeth, a periodontist might choose to perform a plastic surgery technique called crown lengthening. This procedure reduces and reshapes the gum tissues and underlying bone to expose the full length of the teeth.
Lip hypermobility could be limited temporarily by Botox injections administered about every six months. Another option is a surgical procedure that restricts lip movement and can offer a permanent solution. Similarly, surgery to reposition a long upper jaw could minimize gum exposure and improve smile appearance.
If you or a family member has a gummy smile, there may be an effective way to improve it. Understanding why it's gummy will be your first step to a more attractive smile.
If you would like more information on enhancing a gummy smile, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gummy Smiles.”
Besides straight and translucent teeth, an attractive smile has another important component: balance. In a great smile, the visible areas of the teeth and gums are in balanced proportion to one another.
But what is the ideal proportion between teeth and gums? Although aesthetic appeal is largely “in the eye of the beholder,” dental professionals typically consider a properly sized tooth to be around 10 mm in visible length. As for the upper gums, no more than 4 mm of tissue should show when smiling. Teeth appearing shorter than 10 mm or the gums displaying more than 4 mm can create an effect called a “gummy smile.”
Fortunately, there are different approaches for correcting a gummy smile, depending on what's causing the appearance of gumminess. Not only are there different causes, but they can be diverse in nature.
Obviously, an actual excess of gum tissue can cause a smile to look gummy—but so can shortened teeth. One possible solution called crown lengthening could help correct either possibility. During the procedure, we remove any excess gum tissue or reposition the gums after reshaping the underlying bone to reveal more of the tooth crown. Worn or shortened teeth can also be made to look longer with porcelain veneers.
A gummy smile could also be caused by a hypermobile lip, in which the lip rises higher than normal while smiling. We may be able to prevent this temporarily by injecting Botox into the lip muscles, which paralyzes them and inhibits their ability to move upward. A more permanent approach is to surgically restrict the upward movement of the lip muscles.
The gums may also seem too prominent if the upper jaw is longer in proportion to the face. One way to correct this is orthognathic surgery, a procedure that moves the upper jaw to a higher position on the skull. This can reduce the jaw profile with the face and subsequently affect how much of the gums show while smiling.
These solutions range from relatively minor to significantly invasive. The first step, though, is to find out what's really behind your gummy smile before taking the next step to make it more attractive.
If you would like more information on improving a gummy smile, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gummy Smiles.”