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Gummy Smile TreatmentWhat is a gummy smile?

A gummy smile, clinically known as an ‘excessive gingival display’, refers to a smile that reveals more of the gum tissue above your upper teeth than desired.

What is considered a gummy smile is largely subjective and aesthetic in nature, but tends to relate to things like the height and shape of your teeth, the movement of your lips when you smile, or the angle of your jaw in comparison to the rest of your face. Generally speaking however, anything above 3-4mm of gum tissue being exposed is usually considered disproportionate.

Gummy smiles can have a negative effect on a person’s self-image and self-confidence, particularly in social interactions, but will not impact their ability to eat or speak.

Read on to learn more about the potential causes of a gummy smile, as well as the various treatment options we offer at Stellar Dental Specialists.

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What causes a gummy smile?

Jaw issues

One of the most common causes of gummy smiles is an overgrowth of the upper jaw, a condition known as ‘vertical maxillary excess’, in which the jaw grows longer than it typically would. This leads to an irregular vertical position and excess gum tissue becoming visible on either side of the teeth.

Tooth issues

The way in which your adult teeth grow, or erupt, can play a part in the development of a gummy smile. This can be the case when the top teeth erupt further forward compared to the lower teeth, or don’t erupt properly and appear small in comparison to the gums, as they remain partially covered by gum tissue.

Due to use over time, your upper teeth may also move downwards with the aim of maintaining their usual bite, and as such the gums will naturally move down with the teeth, appearing lower.

Lip issues

A gummy smile is often brought about as a result of an upper lip that is shorter than usual and consequently shows too much gum tissue, despite the jaw and teeth being of a ‘regular’ size.

Your lips may also be hypermobile or hyperactive – that is, when the lip muscles are overly strong or mobile and lift more easily when you smile, exposing excess gum tissue when you smile.

Gum issues

Issues stemming from the gums themselves will often be the cause of a gummy smile, as an overgrowth of the gum – known as gingival hypertrophy – can give rise to extra gum tissue being on display.

Gum enlargement can usually be put down to excessive mouth breathing or poor oral hygiene. The latter is an especially prevalent factor, as plaque that builds up on the teeth will often make its way under your gums, which are then at high risk of inflammation and enlargement.

People with braces will tend to struggle to adequately brush and floss their teeth around their braces, making the build up of bacteria on the gums and eventual inflammation rather common. Those with more general or existing gum issues, meanwhile, often avoid brushing around their gums because of pain, leading to insufficient dental hygiene habits in the long run.


Certain medications can have the unfortunate side effect of enlarging the gum around your teeth. These can include:

  • immunosuppressants
  • anti-seizure medications
  • heart disease medications
  • drugs for high blood pressure
  • epilepsy medications

It is important to consult with your doctor if you are taking or have been prescribed medication for any of the conditions above, as prolonged gum overgrowth can result in the development of periodontitis, or gum disease.

How do I fix a gummy smile?

If you are suffering from excessive gingival display, the dental professionals at Stellar Dental Specialists are equipped with state-of-the-art dental equipment and expert knowledge to help correct a gummy smile and bring back your confidence while giving you our signature high standard of dental care.

gummy smile treatment

Gummy Smile Treatment Options

Lip repositioning surgery

If you suffer from a hypermobile or hyperactive upper lip, your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend a lip repositioning surgery.

By removing part of the connective tissue from under your upper lip, it will limit the motion of your upper lip and ensure the muscles around your lip and nose don’t lift your lip too far above your teeth.

Lip surgery can normally be performed in under an hour, and is performed under local anesthetic to ensure minimal discomfort during the surgery.

Gum contouring

If you feel too much gum tissue shows above your top teeth, a periodontist may be able to perform a gingivectomy. Also known as a ‘gum contouring’ or ‘gum lift’, this simple procedure involves removing excess gum tissue, by reshaping or lifting the gum (often using a laser) to reveal more of the teeth and give them added definition when you smile.

Similar to a lip surgery, local anaesthetic is administered before a gum lift so that the patient feels no pain, and it can typically also be completed in less than an hour.

Veneers or crowns

For patients who feel as though their top teeth appear short relative to the gum tissue visible when they smile, cosmetic dental treatments such as veneers or dental crowns can make the teeth appear longer. These are often used after braces have been worn to help push the teeth into their correct position, and can assist in repairing the tooth structure and the form of your bite.

Jaw surgery

Gummy smiles that are put down to issues relating to the jaw can be treated with an orthognathic surgery, better known as jaw surgery.

The operation involves shortening or reshaping an overgrown upper jaw, balancing the length of the lower and upper jaws, before moving the jaw upwards into its correct position.

As a rather more invasive procedure, jaw surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and normally requires an overnight hospital stay.

Crown lengthening surgery

For teeth that haven’t fully erupted, crown lengthening surgery can be an effective treatment option to remove excess gum tissue (and sometimes some bone) around the teeth. Doing so enables the gums to retract to their correct position, in turn making the teeth appear longer.

Should the gum line look uneven, crown lengthening can also help reshape the gum line and add extra symmetry to your smile.


The amount of gum shown in a ‘perfect’ smile is highly subjective and down to an individual’s own perception, however a smile is generally seen as gummy if over 3-4mm of gum tissue is visible.

The cost of treatment for a gummy smile will vary significantly based on the type of procedure you require, as they can greatly differ in terms of invasiveness, duration and level of anaesthetic necessary. Contact Stellar Dental Specialists to book an appointment and we can provide you with a quote.

Muscle-relaxing injections can be an effective method of lifting the upper lip and reducing the amount of gum shown when you smile, but can cause some discomfort. The pain does not last long, however, and can be managed with the application of a numbing cream.

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