The “Gummy Smile” or more scientifically referred to as Excessive Gingival Display, is a condition that affects 10-14% of adults usually between the ages 20-35 and generally affects women twice as much as men. This appearance may result from one of three conditions.
- The first condition occurs when there is excess gum tissue covering the teeth, giving a “short tooth appearance”.
- The second condition results from an overdeveloped upper jaw or also referred to maxillary excess.
- The third condition is referred to as a short upper lip, or a ‘hyperactive’ upper lip that raises too high during full smile.
Generally, the diagnosis of a gummy smile is made when more than 3-4mm of gum is seen in full smile. Studies have shown that smiles showing more than 4 mm of gum upon smiling are perceived as less attractive or less-natural. For some, a gummy smile can be cause of embarrassment and prevent individuals from fully smiling.
The method for correction of the gummy smile depends on the true nature of the problem:
1. In more extreme cases where there is an overdevelopment of the maxillary (upper) jaw bone, jaw surgery is required to remove the excess bone. This is generally done in combination with orthodontic treatment.
2. Cases where the gummy smile is actually due to the presence of too much gum covering the teeth, the problem can be more easily corrected via a gingivectomy or crown lengthening procedure, where excess gum is removed to expose the natural length of the teeth.
3 If the cause of the gummy smile is a ‘hyperactive’ upper lip, botox injections may be used as a short term solution to the problem and may need to be retreated with botox every 4-6 months.
A new and revolutionary approach is also available called “Lip Repositioning”. It is a newly developed procedure that corrects gummy smiles caused by a hyperactive lip (high upper lip). Lip repositioning is a short and minimally invasive surgical procedure that lowers the junction of the upper lip to the inside of the mouth. The procedure restricts upper lip movement in full smile and dramatically reduces the amount of gum exposure on full smile. This is accomplished through removal of a small strip of tissue from the inside of the upper lip. Once the small strip of tissue has been removed, the upper lip is sutured into a new, lower position. In some cases, a ‘Trial’ Lip Repositioning can be performed prior to surgery by suturing of the lip into this new lower position without tissue removal. This will allow the patient to try out their new smile prior to surgery. If unhappy with the results, the ‘Trial’ Lip Repositioning is completely reversible.
The procedure generally takes about 30-45 minutes with local anesthesia (Novocaine). All incisions are in the mouth and result in little or minimal scarring in the inside of the lip. Other than restriction of lip movement on full smile, no other effects on facial muscle movement or speech are seen.
The Benefits of Lip Repositioning:
- Immediate correction of a ‘Gummy Smile’
- Results in a more esthetic, confident smile with a proportional amount of teeth and gums.
- Fast recovery with no external scarring.
Before and After Photos