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Gummy Smile

What is a gummy smile?

In simple terms, a gummy smile is when one smiles, he or she instead of showing a lot of white dazzling teeth, they show a lot more of the pink gum tissue!

In dental terms, for an aesthetic smile, it’s generally agreed that we should have 1 or 2mm of gum tissue visible when we smile.  A gummy smile is when more than 2mm of gum tissue is on display when a person smiles.

In most of the cases as long as the height of the teeth is much more than the pink gum when a person smiles or talks, it is acceptable to people. But, when this ratio changes in favour of more pink gum showing than the white teeth it can become unattractive, resulting in some people trying to improve their gummy smile.

What factors can lead into having a gummy smile?

A Gummy smile can be caused by:

  1. Having small sized teeth relative to the height of the gum visible, due to genetic factors or excessively worn down teeth.
  2. Having a short upper lip, otherwise known as high lip line.
  3. A hyperactive lip elevator muscle.
  4. Vertical overgrowth of the upper jaw bone, a genetically determined skeletal deformity.
  5. Teeth which have suffered from altered passive eruption.
  6. A combination of two or more of the above factors.

If you present to us seeking treatment for a gummy smile, we will first ascertain the cause of your gummy smile. Identifying the correct cause of the gummy smile is the only way to correctly treat a gummy smile.

One of the commonest causes of gummy smile is the result of small sized teeth or teeth which have suffered from altered passive eruption and as a result, teeth look smaller than they should be. To correct this we can carry out laser gum reshaping or periodontal crown lengthening surgery to increase the height of the teeth and using porcelain veneers to improve the aesthetics of those teeth.

The crown lengthening process involves a surgical treatment to remove some of the bone around the root of the teeth, hence increasing the height of the tooth crown and repositioning the gum level to show less gum. The outcome of this option can be predicted with more certainty especially with the gum final position. But to complete treatment it may take several months and it is contraindicated in smokers, patients with thin gum and poor oral hygiene. It also involves all the complications associated with any form of surgery such as pain, bleeding, swelling etc…

With mild cases, laser gum reshaping can be used to provide a very painless, bloodless, quick and effective way of reducing the amount of gum tissue on display without removing any underlying bone tissue. The advantage of this technique is its simplicity and being minimally invasive. Its disadvantage is that the final outcome may not be as predictable as surgical bone removal and the gum may re-grow.  However it has a good success rate and in combination with some other treatments can be very effective and in many situations is the best treatment option. The position of the gum is maintained by the porcelain veneers and if any gum re-growing takes place it can be removed again.

If the gummy smile is cause by small sized teeth or excessively worn down teeth, we usually build-up the worn down teeth with porcelain or composite veneers to restore the teeth back to their former length and height. The patients may also be required to wear an NTi splint at night to stop tooth wear damaging their new veneers.

In cases where the gummy smile is caused by a genetically determined skeletal deformity, where the middle third of the face presents with excessive vertical length, we treat the mild and moderate cases with orthodontic intrusion using Invisalign and the severe cases are treated with Orthognathic jaw surgery and orthodontics.

Before we carry out any modifications to your gum line, we first take photos and impressions of your teeth and provide you with a trial smile. The trial smile shows you a preview of how your teeth could look in your own mouth should you decide to have your gummy smile treated.

We will always provide you with a full written treatment plan so that you are fully aware of the costs involved before we begin any treatment. We have published our fees on our web site, so that there are no hidden costs. We provide 0% Finance on most treatments allowing you to spread the cost of treatment over a period that suits you. Finance can be arranged within a few hours by sending the completed application form to Dental Finance.


Pearl Dental Clinic is open 7 days a week. You can book an appointment by calling us on 0203 750 5300 or emailing us or booking an appointment online


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