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Can Orthodontics Fix My Gummy Smile?

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young woman with gummy smile

Whenever you see your smile, whether it’s in a picture or the mirror, do you always notice your gums much more than your teeth? Do they actually overshadow your teeth or make them look short and stubby by comparison? This is a very common problem that is simply called a “gummy smile,” and it can often be resolved by orthodontics. How does this work? Read on to find out as well as learn about more treatment options!

What Causes a Gummy Smile?

There are three main reasons why a person might have a gummy smile:

  • The upper jawbone is too long or overdeveloped.
  • There is too much gum tissue.
  • The upper lip muscles are overactive (which causes it to pull back too far when smiling and expose more of the gums).

How Orthodontics Can Help

If a gummy smile is the result of the upper jaw being too long (which is called “maxillary skeletal excess”), braces or Invisalign can be used to slightly reposition it upward so that less of the gums show when smiling. It’s also possible to shift the teeth themselves so they become more prominent. This may involve pulling them a little forward. And, fixing crowding can often create the ideal ratio of gums to teeth as well. By moving the teeth in a way that creates a nice, even row, this makes it easier for them to draw the eye more than the gums.

Non-Orthodontic Solutions

While orthodontics has helped many patients improve their gummy smiles, it only works in cases where the problem is due to the teeth and jaw. If the issue stems from the gums themselves or the upper lip, then another solution will be recommended.

A procedure known as gum recontouring involves gently removing any extra gum tissue to reveal more enamel, making the teeth appear longer while muting the appearance of the gums. It’s a fairly common treatment offered by most general dentists.  

And for those with an overactive upper lip, Botox can be used to relax the muscles so that when someone smiles, it doesn’t pull back too far. Thankfully, more and more general dentists are able to offer Botox as part of their services.

If you are unhappy with your gummy smile, it would be wise to talk to an orthodontist first about addressing it because they can determine whether or not it is due to your teeth and jaw. If not, they can refer you to a general dentist who can offer the other two solutions. This approach is best because if a patient sees a general dentist first, they may recommend gum recontouring or Botox without considering the teeth and bone first. By taking the time to find the root of the issue, you’ll end up with a much better result that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Shirck has been serving the Columbus area for over 10 years, and he has been named as a “Top Orthodontist” every year since 2011. He has helped several patients fix their gummy smiles using orthodontics, and he can let you know what type of treatment would be best for you after performing a brief exam. To schedule a FREE in-person consultation at Shirck Orthodontics and discover the best way to achieve your ideal smile, click here.