Have you ever held back from smiling because of a nagging feeling that too much of your gums are showing? We describe this as a “gummy smile”.
Due to varying individual perceptions, it’s difficult to say when a smile becomes “gummy”. But studies performed on groups of dental professionals and patients indicate that a smile begins to appear gummy when four millimeters (just over one eighth of an inch) of gum tissue are visible.
If you feel you have a gummy smile, it’s important to identify the cause. This will help your Yuba City Dentist to recommend the procedure that’s appropriate to your circumstances.
What Causes a Gummy Smile?
Gummy smiles are typically caused by the gums themselves, the teeth, the lips, or the jaw. Each area calls for a different approach to address the problem. Let’s take a closer look:
Gums: If you have more than average gum tissue, this could cause your teeth to appear “short”. In this case, you would benefit from a periodontal plastic surgery technique we call “crown lengthening”. This procedure involves removing and reshaping excess gum tissue, thus exposing more of your teeth’s surfaces.
Teeth: Teeth vary in how they erupt from the gums. This means that some teeth will appear shorter than others. To compensate for this, we can cap (or crown) certain teeth or cover them with thin porcelain veneers.
Another possibility is that your teeth have worn down over time; this is especially common if you have a tendency to grind your teeth. This may cause a condition known as compensatory eruption. At times, teeth begin to move (or erupt) slowly outward from the gum, in an effort to compensate for wear and keep a fully functional bite. In this case, the smile appears gummier because the gums move with the teeth as they erupt. Orthodontic treatment may be used to return affected teeth to the proper position. Afterwards, we can restore the worn down teeth with porcelain crowns or veneers.
Lip: The typical upper lip moves between six and eight millimeters from normal rest position to full smile. If a lip rises much further, which is known as being hypermobile, more gum tissue will be visible.
To treat this, a doctor will need to modify the action of the muscles controlling the lip, in effect, limiting their ability. Treatment ranges from Botox shots that temporarily paralyze those muscles (for six months at a time), to a lip stabilization procedure – a surgery that permanently restricts how high the lip can move.
Jaw: If your upper jaw is too long for your face, you suffer from a condition known as Vertical Maxillary Escess. Orthognatic sugery, a procedure that repositions the jaw, is a potential solution. Although an extremely complex procedure, it can produce dramatic results.
The key to adjusting a gummy smile begins with a correct diagnosis. If you struggle with this condition, make an appointment with the Yuba City Dentistry Group today. We are happy to provide a diagnosis and outline the best form of treatment for you.