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How to Fix a Gummy Smile

There are a variety of reasons for which you may not be happy with your smile, often related to the shape and beauty of your teeth. 

One of the reasons may be that they are too small, broken, twisted, yellow, or have decay, or they may be one of the reasons for a gummy smile and you will know in this article how to correct the gummy smile.

If you feel that the gums appear dramatically when you smile, you probably already have a condition known as a "gingival smile." This can happen for a number of reasons, and can also be addressed in many ways, temporarily and permanently.

Learn more about this gum smile, and the options to create the smile you've always wanted!

What is a gum smile?

A gingival smile occurs when a large amount of gum tissue appears above the upper teeth when smiling. 

It can be determined whether you have a gingival smile with the naked eye, but the exact description of a gingival smile is that it occurs when there is more than 4 mm of gum tissue appearing when you smile.

If you think you have a gummy smile, it is better to visit your dentist who can perform X-rays and perform some tests to determine why you have a gummy smile before determining what type of treatment is right for you.

Causes of gum smile

There are several reasons why there is a smile for a second, including:

  • Tooth problems.
  • Gum problems.
  • Short lips or lip muscle problems.
  • Jaw problems.

Dental Problems

Teeth may be very small, which can be genetic or as a result of use (exposure of teeth to corrosion).

If the teeth erode over time, the upper teeth will try to maintain the right bite by bursting further, or for some people, the teeth may have broken off naturally.

Another problem may occur when the upper teeth explode too far forward for the lower teeth. Instead of touching, they bypass each other and explode too far.

With each of these scenarios, as the teeth move down, the gums also move down because they are connected to the teeth, making the teeth look shorter and the gums longer.

Gum problems

Gums can grow above the teeth as a result of breathing from the mouth or due to some medication or lack of commitment to dental cleaning. This indicates that there is still a large portion of the teeth hidden under the gums.

Lip problems

Hypermobility or lip hyperactivity occurs when the muscles around the lips are very strong, pulling the lips upwards and increasing the exposure of gum tissue more than usual when smiling.

Usually, the lip moves from 6 to 8 mm from the rest position to full smile position, but the highly active lips move further.

Another problem with lips is that the lip is too short, as a large amount of gums appear even when the size of the jaw and teeth are proportional to each other.

Jaw problems

The most common reason for a gingival smile is that the upper jaw is too long, regarding the size of the face and lip tissue available to cover the gums, so there is a large amount of gum tissue visible on both sides of the teeth.

Treatment of gummy smile

After your dentist determines the cause of your gummy smile (which can be several common reasons), your dentist can advise you on the appropriate type of treatment to correct the gums and return the beautiful smile to your teeth. Treatment methods vary in cost, length of treatment, and potential risks.

Options for treating gummy smile can include:

  • Orthodontic treatment.
  • Cut the gums/lift the gums.
  • Professional dental cleaning.
  • Jaw surgery.
  • Lip surgery.
  • Injection of muscle relaxant (Botox).

Orthodontic Treatment

If the gingival smile is caused by tooth problems as mentioned above so that the teeth are away from the correct application, orthodontics can be used to return the teeth to their correct position in the jaw.

Once the teeth and gums move to the correct position, cosmetic dental treatments such as peels or crowns can then begin to restore the tooth structure so that the bite remains identical between the upper and lower teeth.

Gum clipping/gum lifting

If the cause of the gummy smile is gum enlargement, gum cutting may be the best therapeutic option.

This type of periodontal surgery is also known as "gum lift." Gum cutting in the dental clinic can be done as quickly as possible with the dentist or gum therapist, and this can be done using lasers to reshape and remove excess gum tissue.

This will significantly shorten the height of the gums and detect more tooth surface to improve the appearance of your smile.

Professional Dental Cleaning

Gums can also swell due to gum diseases and infections or taking certain drugs. Swelling can be treated by cleaning teeth and root surfaces professionally at the dentist's clinic.

If the swelling of the gums is caused by taking certain medications, you should consult your doctor to see if there are alternative drug options that do not have a side effects on the gums.

Jaw Surgery

In some cases where the jaw is too large (usually more than 7mm of exposed gums), a bone shortening procedure known as orthodontic surgery can be performed by an oral and orthodontic surgeon. This surgery involves moving the entire jaw up surgically.

Lip Surgery

Lip hyperactivity or hypermobility can be successfully treated through permanent surgery by oral or cosmetic surgeon to restrict the movement of the upper lip.

If the lip is too short, another surgery can be performed to prolong the lip. This process is more complicated than restricting the movement of the lip with surgery.

Muscle relaxant injections (Botox injections)

Botox Injections

Muscle relaxants (anti-wrinkle injections) are the simplest option to treat a gingival smile when the problem is linked to excessively active muscles.

When injected into the right area, it temporarily paralyzes the muscle that lifts the lip high, and the results last about 6 months.

What are Botox injections?

Although there are many Botox injection brands, each has the same active ingredient (Botulinum Toxin). 

They contain complex proteins that prevent muscle contraction, reducing their strength. The greater the use of the product, the more relaxed the muscles and reduce contractions.

Botox is eliminated from the body over time, and eventually, the muscle regains its normal function, so the treatment must be repeated every period.

Botox injections are also an effective treatment for grinding teeth (squeaking teeth) and slimming jaw.

How to use Botox injections to treat gummy smile?

Depending on how exposed your gums are, your dentist will decide the required Botox dose.

Botox is injected on both sides of the nose to affect the muscles that move the lip. 

This will prevent these muscles from contracting and shrinking dramatically, causing the upper lip to relax and extend over the excess gums that appear when they smile.

What should I expect when getting Botox injections?

Some patients may have a slight tingle during injection, which is very mild and lasts only a few seconds. 

The skin may become red or bleed a few drops of blood immediately afterwards, followed by a tingling or itching sensation for several minutes, but these symptoms quickly disappear within minutes.

Results will usually take several days to begin to appear, and the full result will take up to two weeks to be crystal clear. 

A review appointment with your dentist is recommended at this stage to determine whether you need another dose to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.

What are the risks of Botox injections to treat gingival smile?

Botox injections are a safe and effective treatment, but all drugs already carry the potential for side effects, most of which occur in rare cases. 

Your dentist will discuss these matters with you after thoroughly assessing your health and medical history before treatment, reducing the risk of complications by knowing that it is safe for you to undergo this treatment.

The most common problems occur from the injection itself and not from the product, which can include redness, bruising, swelling, and possible dermatitis. 

If not properly placed, the syringe can affect a muscle elsewhere other than the one it was supposed to do or may relax the muscles too much. 

This means that your smile and how your mouth moves are likely to be affected, which is why it is important to choose a dentist with a lot of experience and skill in providing this treatment. 

Extremely rare complications can include allergic reactions, flu-like symptoms or headaches.