What Causes Gummy Smile and How to Treat It

A gummy smile is a very common developmental issue of the upper jawline. It manifests with the excessive display of the gum when the patient smiles. As such, it is perceived as being aesthetically displeasing. In fact, this could have a notable effect on the psychological state of the patients because they feel embarrassed. Thus, the main objective of reducing the gum display in these patients is providing them with a better self-image.

Gummy Smile
By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Anna Paquin) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Unfortunately, severe cases of an excessive gingival display can only be corrected through surgical methods. However, lower-grade gummy smiles can be improved through noninvasive methods. In this article, we will present the main causes of the condition, as well as the main treatment options available to patients.

The Main Causes of Gummy Smiles

Excessive gingival display and delayed passive eruption are commonly known as “gummy smiles”. When patients smile, their gum line is considerably more visible than in healthy individuals, which is perceived as being displeasing from an aesthetic standpoint. Gummy smiles are caused by these three key development issues:

1. An Abnormal Eruption of the Teeth

In this case, the patients’ teeth appear shorter because they are deeply lodged into the gum line. While the teeth may have the proper length, they are not entirely visible. This causes the gum line to appear far larger than the teeth.

2. Hyperactive Facial Muscles

When the facial muscles that control the upper lip are hyperactive, a larger part of the gum line becomes visible when the patients smile. As such, they display what is commonly referred to as a gummy smile.

3. Development Issues of the Maxillary Bone

Patients displaying maxillary prognathism commonly have gummy smiles. Their maxillary bone is larger than their jaw, thus making a larger portion of the gum line to be visible when patients smile. Other issues in the development of the jaw bone could also lead to a gummy smile.

The Symptomatology of Gummy Smiles

As we have mentioned above, in patients who display gummy smiles, a larger portion of the gum line becomes visible when they smile. The size of the visible gum portion during smiling is the main factor that determines the severity of the medical issue.

Gummy Smile

In severe cases, the patients’ physical appearance is significantly affected, which gives way to a wide range of psychological issues generated by their negative self-image. In fact, these are the central consequences of gummy smiles and the main reason why dentists aim to reduce the excessive gum display.

Other complications generated by gummy smiles feature a diverse array of gum issues. Patients with the severe gingival display are predisposed to developing gingivitis and periodontal disease. However, both conditions can be easily avoided by enforcing solid preventative measures. These include a rigorous oral hygiene, dental plaque removal procedures, as well as solid natural remedies for gingival care. Patients must learn how to get rid of gingivitis to make sure that they avoid damage to their gums and teeth.

Treatment Options for Gummy Smiles

The severity of the excessive gingival display is the central factor in the diagnosis and the treatment plan for gummy smiles. The doctor will examine the gum line, as well as the teeth to determine the causing factors of the issue. As such, an X-ray may be necessary for the diagnosis of tooth development problems and maxillary development issues.

Based on these factors, the doctor will develop a treatment plan that is personalized to the patient’s needs. Severe gummy smiles caused by maxillary issues require a surgical approach in most cases. On the other hand, low-grade cases determined by tooth eruption issues may be corrected with orthodontic devices. In the following section of this article, we will review the main treatment options available to patients.

Surgical Methods

There are several surgical methods available for reducing excessive gingival display. Each of these aims to correct one of the causing factors of the issue. However, patients often present with complex issues that involve the teeth, lip muscles, and maxillary bone. In this case, the surgeon will recommend a more complex surgical treatment plan. These are the most important treatment options for gummy smiles:

·         Maxillofacial Surgery for Repositioning the Bone

Severe cases of gummy smile caused by maxillary bone issues can be corrected by repositioning the bone. This entails complex maxillofacial surgery and a lengthy recovery time.

·         Lip Repositioning Surgery

This is the main treatment option for gummy smiles caused by hyperactive lip muscles. The surgeon will reposition the lip to cover as much of the gum line as possible and improve the patient’s smile.

·         Gum Surgery

This type of surgical approach is suited for patients with tooth eruption issues. The gingival outline can be corrected with gum lifting procedures to display a larger portion of the teeth, thus reducing or correcting the patient’s gummy smile.

Non-Surgical Methods

As an alternative to the surgical approach, patients with less severe gummy smiles can be provided with orthodontic devices meant that can correct their dental and gingival issues. This type of treatment entails the prolonged use of these devices, which can be unpleasant for the patient because they can be quite uncomfortable.

Moreover, they may worsen the patients’ appearance during the treatment period. As such, this could aggravate their psychological issues regarding self-image. This is a very important factor that should be taken into consideration in the development of the treatment plan.

How to Conceal Gummy Smiles with Makeup

Gummy smiles cannot be entirely concealed with makeup. However, there are certain techniques that can minimize the visibility of the excessive gingival display. These can be easily included in the daily makeup routine of patients to improve their self-image.


  • Lip Enlargement Makeup

The right makeup techniques can make lips appear fuller, thus decreasing the effect of the gummy smile. These include detailed lip contouring and filling methods, and they can do wonders. Moreover, there are special products that provide an intense lip enlargement effect. These could prove to be very useful for concealing a gummy smile.

  • Bold Eye Makeup

Shifting the focus of the makeup from the lips is yet another method to minimize a gummy smile. Bold eye makeup is typically paired with very subtle lip colors. However, lip contouring could still be included to get fuller lips. Smokey eyes makeup and vivid colors can draw the attention away from the entire mouth area.

  • Dental Whitening Techniques

Another useful technique is making teeth as visible as possible. Women can use natural methods to whiten their teeth, as well as professional ones for excellent results. By making teeth whiter, they will also appear somewhat larger compared to the gum line, which is extremely helpful for minimizing a gummy smile.

To sum up, gummy smiles are extremely common dental issues that can affect the patients’ self-image. While severe cases require a surgical approach to reduce the length of the visible gum line when patients smile, lower-grade gummy smiles can be corrected with orthodontic devices. Patients are advised to seek professional medical help to get a personalized treatment plan.

About Bharat Sharma

Bharat Sharma is a simple guy who lives in Delhi,India and loves writing about the health and beauty benefits of the common food item we see in our kitchen and refrigerator.

Comments (2)

  • Hi Bharat ,
    this is the first time I hear of the Gummi smile 🙂
    I never thought that this kind of smile makes problems .
    Maybe people who have it are bothered with it?
    I love every smile Gummi or not .
    Thank you, I learned something new 🙂

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