Should you worry about a gummy smile?

22 MARCH 2022

Should you worry about a gummy smile?


We all have our own unique smile which adds to our individuality.  Though not everyone is happy with their smile, particularly when they feel their smile is ‘gummy’. A gummy smile is when excess gum shows under the upper lip and the teeth appear too short in relation to the gums. Ideally, only a couple of millimetres of gum is seen when someone smiles and the upper lip sits just above their gum. 

The formal name for a gummy smile is excessive gingival display and it can be caused by tooth, gum, lip or jaw issues. Treatment goals are generally based around making the gum tissue and teeth more proportional to the person’s face.

There are a few causes for a gummy smile, though it generally happens when:

  • The muscle which controls the movement of the upper lip is very tight, too loose or the lip moves around too much.
  • Taking particular medications.
  • The top lip is very thin or short.
  • The teeth are short or worn down.
  • Someone has a ‘long’ face and their upper jaw is longer than average.  
  • The gums extend over the teeth, rather than stopping in the ideal position.
  • There are alignment (orthodontic) problems with the teeth and upper jaw.
  • Genetic problems where the teeth do not erupt out of the jawbone.

When to treat a gummy smile

Treating a gummy smile becomes more of a priority when there are health impacts. Eating and efficient tooth cleaning can be affected, as well as increasing the risk of breathing problems, especially when sleeping. Unless there are associated health risks, there is no real reason to fix a gummy smile. However, some people feel self-conscious about their smile to the point where it is affecting their confidence and self-esteem. Book an appointment with your dentist to discuss options that may be right for you.

Treatment for a gummy smile

Treatment options vary depending on the extent and cause for a gummy smile. Your dentist will guide you in what’s right for your individual condition. Sometimes a combination of treatments can be used together to bring about the best solution.

  • Professional tooth cleaning can help when the gums are swollen and overriding the teeth.
  • Muscle relaxants can be used to treat the muscles of the lip if they are not working as they should.
  • Gums can be re-contoured so more of the natural tooth underneath can be seen. Gum re-contouring is considered to be more of a cosmetic option.
  • The crown of the tooth is lengthened so when the gums heal, there is a better ratio of gum to tooth. Crown lengthening is also considered cosmetic in nature.
  • Surgery can be done if the jaws are misaligned. Often, orthodontic treatment is recommended as well.

Speak with your dentist about ways your gummy smile can be improved.

Book an appointment today.