Correcting bite problems and overcrowding in the mouth is something you know an orthodontist can do. But did you know that your orthodontist can correct how much of your gums show in your smile, too? Even better, did you know this modern orthodontic treatment does not have to involve surgery?
What is a Gummy Smile?
A gummy smile means that when smiling, more of your gums show than you would like. Clinically, the term describes a smile with more than two mm of exposed gum.[i] Many times, showing excessive gums when smiling can make patients feel self-conscious about their smile and contributes to low self-confidence.
Many factors can lead to a patient having a gummy smile. Per Colgate.com, these include:
- A change in the eruption of the teeth during childhood
- Upper teeth moving downward or the upper jawbone growing too much
- Overactive or short muscles that lift the upper lip too far up
Gummy smiles are more common than you might think, especially for women. Colgate estimates that they occur in about 11 to 29 percent of the population.
What Can You Do About It?
Chances are if you have a gummy smile, you probably already know what it is, even if you didn’t have a term for it. Often, patients who have gummy smiles modify their smiles not to show their gums as much. Hiding a natural smile can make it difficult for a dentist to notice and diagnose. However, many orthodontists know how to get patients to laugh and smile so they can see how much the gingival tissues show.
Once the dentist or orthodontist identifies a patient with a gummy smile, they might recommend treating it. These may or may not include:
- Crown Lengthening:A treatment where a specialist surgically removes the excess gum tissue to expose more of the tooth and raises the gumline.
- Botox Injection:That’s right! Botox Injections (Botulinum Toxin) are not just for frown lines and foreheads. While this is a temporary solution, Botox injections can limit the over-contraction of the lip muscles for anywhere from three to six months.
- Lip Repositioning Surgery:Healthline describes lip repositioning surgery as removing part of the connective tissue from the underside of the lip to prevent the muscles nearby from lifting the lip too far.
- Orthognathic Surgery:Another surgical option Healthline describes is Orthognathic Surgery, where the dental professional surgically balances the length of the upper and lower jaws.
But What About a Non-Surgical and Permanent Option?
Many patients are not super excited about undertaking surgery to their gums, jaws, or lips to correct a gummy smile, nor do they love the idea of getting injections every few months to fix it. Or sometimes, their case or anatomy doesn’t work with the treatment types described above. So, instead, they live with their gummy smile, learning to modify their smile as much as possible whenever they can and usually wishing they could fix it another way.
The excellent news is there is a way to treat a gummy smile without surgery using modern orthodontic treatment. Temporary anchorage devices, or TADs, are tiny screws that you can implant into the oral cavity’s bone. TADs can pull your teeth into a position that reduces the amount of your gums that show when you smile. This non-surgical treatment costs less than surgery and is less invasive.
At Bloom Orthodontics, I treat patients with TADs for non-surgical correction of a gummy smile. As one of the few Board-Certified orthodontists who can do so locally, I approve of this non-surgical gummy smile correction because it is a permanent solution, unlike Botox, and one of the least invasive ways to correct vs. maxillary or gum surgery.
It is important to note that some patients might need gingival contouring at the end of TAD treatment. Gingival contouring is an in-office procedure that removes excess gum tissue with a dental laser to re-sculpt the gumline. There are no stitches or bleeding after the treatment when the dental professional uses a laser, and the patient can expect a fast recovery.
Many patients with a gummy smile have learned to live with it because they hate the idea of surgery or getting Botox injections. However, there is another modern orthodontic treatment option that is non-surgical, permanent, and effective. TADs can help many of our patients, giving them something to smile about—gums and all.
If you want to know if TADs can help correct your gummy smile, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office to schedule your free consultation.
Mostafa D. A Successful Management of Severe Gummy Smile Using Gingivectomy And Botulinum Toxin Injection: A Case Report. ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321473493_A_Successful_Management_Of_Sever_Gummy_Smile_Using_Gingivectomy_And_Botulinum_Toxin_Injection_A_Case_Report. Published 2017. Accessed November 15, 2021.
“3 Treatment Options for a Gummy Smile.” www.colgate.com. Web. 15 November 2021. < https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/mouth-and-teeth-anatomy/3-treatment-options-for-a-gummy-smile>.
Stanborough, Rebecca Joy. “What to Know About a Gummy Smile.” Healthline.com. 15 June 2020. Web. 15 November 2021. < https://www.healthline.com/health/gummy-smile#treatment>