Virginia Dental Care

703-276-1010 Located 2 blocks from Ballston METRO STATION

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Open MON - FRI From 8:00 am to 4:00 pm

Gummy Smile Surgery

What is the gummy smile?

We talk about a gummy smile when a person shows an excessive amount of gum when smiling. In particular, we refer to the exposure of more than 2 mm of gum, which is visible disproportionately to the tooth.This overexposure of gingival tissue, which can have different degrees of severity, often causes embarrassment or insecurity regarding smiling. However, today there are different aesthetic methods to correct it depending on its cause.

Causes of the gummy smile

Before detailing the treatments to solve the gummy smile, the dentist must evaluate and explore its cause. These are the different possibilities:

  • Excessive growth of the upper jaw bone is among the most frequent causes. This overgrowth causes the mandible to develop less, and there is, therefore, a disproportion between the upper jaw and the mandible. As a consequence, the gums also protrude.
  • Malocclusion or chewing problems involve dental wear and abnormal teeth movements to compensate for difficulty chewing, which can expose the gums more. It can be caused, for example, by upper teeth that are longer than lower ones. It is another quite frequent cause that should be treated beyond aesthetics.
  • Altered passive eruption: the upper teeth remain smaller or shorter than normal, covered by a greater proportion of gingiva.
  • Upper lip size and mobility – Occurs when the upper lip is too short or rises excessively when smiling.
  • Gingival hyperplasia: the gums grow more than normal due to the consumption of some medications, such as antidepressants, immunosuppressants or antiepileptics. It can also be hereditary.

Treatments for Gummy Smiles

Gingivectomy or Gum Contouring

 In cases where the gummy smile is primarily due to excess gum tissue, a gingivectomy or gum contouring procedure can be performed. During this procedure, a dentist or periodontist removes excess gum tissue using a scalpel or laser. This reveals more of the tooth’s surface and can help achieve a more proportional smile.


Surgical Lip Repositioning:

 In more severe cases, a surgical lip repositioning procedure may be recommended. This involves surgically adjusting the position of the upper lip to cover more of the gum tissue. This is typically performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.


Gummy smile treatment

Once the cause is identified, the dentist will propose the appropriate treatment to improve the appearance of the gummy smile and, if necessary, resolve malocclusion problems (poor positioning of the teeth to their opposites).

Crown Lengthening Surgery

 If the gummy smile is caused by the teeth being covered by excessive gum tissue, crown lengthening surgery may be an option. During this procedure, the dentist removes a portion of the gum tissue and, if necessary, bone to expose more of the tooth’s surface.


Orthodontic Treatment

 Sometimes, a gummy smile can be caused by an underlying orthodontic issue, such as an improper bite or teeth that are not properly aligned. Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners, can help correct these issues and improve the overall appearance of the smile.


Lip Repositioning

Lip repositioning is a minor surgical procedure that involves repositioning the upper lip to cover a portion of the excessive gum tissue. The surgeon will make small incisions inside the mouth to adjust the attachment of the lip muscles. This can create a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing smile.

Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Injections

 Botulinum toxin injections, commonly known as Botox, can be used to temporarily weaken the muscles responsible for lifting the upper lip excessively when smiling. This can help reduce the amount of gum tissue that is exposed when smiling. Botox injections are a non-surgical, minimally invasive option that requires regular maintenance as the effects wear off over time. 


Maxillofacial Surgery

 In cases where the underlying issue is related to the position of the upper jaw, maxillofacial surgery (orthognathic surgery) may be required to reposition the jaw and correct the gummy smile

It’s important to note that the most appropriate treatment will depend on the individual’s specific circumstances, including the cause and severity of the gummy smile. A consultation with a qualified dentist, periodontist, or oral surgeon is essential to determine the best treatment plan tailored to the patient’s needs and goals.