What is a gummy smile?
Gummy smile is defined by 2-4mm of gum that is showing when smiling.
Excessive gum show during smiling can be caused by gum overgrowth, irregular teeth shape and size, or most commonly from excessive activity of muscles involved in raising the upper lip.
What causes gummy smile?
Gummy smiles are caused by overactivation of the three muscles associated with lip elevation; the levator labii superioris, levator labii superioris alaeque nasi, and zygomaticus minor. This is often genetic and tends to run in a family.
Other more uncommon causes include:
- Excessive gum growth (gingival hyperplasia)
- Irregular vertical position of the upper jaw
- The size and shape of the teeth
Is a gummy smile genetic?
Gummy smiles do tend to run in the family. However, this is not the only cause for a gummy smile.
Can a gummy smile be corrected?
Yes. This is often a simple in office procedure using muscle relaxant injections to reduce the overactivity of the LLSAN (a muscle involved in lip elevation).
Will children outgrow a gummy smile?
This varies from child to child and is based on the underlying cause for a gummy smile.
Children still have developing jaw structures until their late teens. Also, gum irritation secondary to braces/orthodontic work can cause gum swelling and worsen the appearance of a gummy smile.
Asssessment later in the teenage years can provide a better clue as to whether a gummy smile is likely to persist into adult life.
Can a gummy smile be corrected with braces or Invisalign?
This is very unlikely.
Straightening teeth with either Invisalign or braces will not correct overactivity of the lip elevator muscles, change the vertical height of the upper jaw, or plump the upper lip to reduce the appearance of the upper gums.
Often, gums can be irritated from braces and Invisalign, which can lead to gum thickening (gingival hyperplasia) and a more prominent gummy smile.