When you smile, how much of your upper gums show? Chances are, unless the answer is “too much,” you haven’t thought much about this question. But for the 14% of women and 7% of men who have so-called “gummy smiles,” it may be a question they ask every time they look in the mirror.

This aesthetic concern may be unusual, but for those who have it, it could be a major barrier to feeling happy with their smile. Unfortunately, many who struggle with this aspect of their smile aren’t aware that there’s a solution. In fact, there are multiple.

A young woman smiling and laughing while outside

How Much Gum Is Too Much?

The average person has approximately two millimeters of gum visible when they smile widely. Polls have illustrated that if more than three or four millimeters of the gums are exposed when someone smiles, that smile is perceived as unusually gummy.

These gummy smiles can happen for a number of reasons, mostly genetic: small teeth, excessive gum tissue, or a too-short upper lip. It can also happen if a medication you take causes your gums to grow; this side effect is called “gingival overgrowth” and it is common with anti-seizure medications, immunosuppressants, and calcium channel blockers.

No matter which is the source of your gummy smile, there are options to correct it. It’s up to you to decide which of those options best suits your circumstance.

Procedures to Get a Balanced Smile

There are three main procedures that are offered to correct a gummy smile. Each has its benefits and its weaknesses. Before selecting a treatment to pursue, it’s important to be fully informed on each of the options.

The go-to treatment for gummy smiles is a procedure called gum recontouring. It’s very simple: The excessive gum tissue is removed to expose the full length of the teeth, effectively balancing the smile. Although surgery may seem like an extreme choice, it’s a permanent solution and is not a terribly invasive or complicated procedure.

A much easier and more affordable solution is Botox injections. These injections are made into the muscles that raise the upper lip, paralyzing them so that the upper lip cannot expose as much of the gums. Unfortunately, while certainly a simpler procedure, Botox injections are also temporary. On average, the injections will only do their job for about three months. That means that in order to keep your smile looking how you want, you would have to have injections done four times a year… forever.

Of course, gum recontouring won’t work if your teeth are simply small. In those cases, your dentist may recommend the third option: Porcelain veneers. This treatment is essentially a facade for your teeth. Veneers can lengthen your teeth, making the gums more visibly proportionate.

If you have a gummy smile, an experienced cosmetic dentist can help. Call (845) 627-7645 or contact us online to make an appointment with a dentist right here in Rockland County and learn more about your options.