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Gummy Smile - Reasons and Treatment Options

Written by
Dr. Ashwin Kumar S
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Jun 05, 2021   -  4 min read


A smile that shows more of the gum line is a gummy smile, making the person conscious while smiling. This excessive gingival display hides his or her smile, resulting in a dent in self-confidence. Please read the article to know the reasons for gummy smiles and the treatment options needed to correct them.


What Is a Gummy Smile?

An excessive display of gum while smiling is termed a gummy smile. A normal smile can display one-third of the teeth to entire teeth, with a bit of the gum visible. A gum display of more than 4 mm is usually considered a gummy smile. Sometimes there might be even 10 mm of gum displayed while smiling, making the person conscious while smiling. This makes the person hide his or her smile, resulting in a dent in self-confidence. This can also cause certain gum-related problems.

What Are the Reasons for a Gummy Smile?

1) Short Upper Lip - Inadequate growth of the upper lip can make the smile appear gummy even though the teeth and gums are normal. Sometimes overactive lips which move more than the normal range of 6 to 8 mm can also cause such a condition. Overgrowth of the upper jaw or excessive growth of the upper jaw in the vertical direction or its such position can cause this condition. Even with normal lips and teeth, this can make the smile appear gummy.

2) Short Upper Teeth - Short upper teeth can also appear like a gummy smile even though the other factors may be normal. Excessive gum growth, intake of certain drugs, and certain conditions cause an overgrowth of gums making the teeth appear shorter and thereby giving the look of a gummy smile. Sometimes the gums may be naturally dark and pigmented, making the smile even more obvious.

What Are the Treatment Options for a Gummy Smile?

It is needless to say that the treatment should be directed towards the cause. Typically, there will be more than one causative factor, which prompts a combination of multiple treatments.

1) Orthodontic Treatment: Displaced teeth can be pushed back to their original position by means of orthodontic treatment. Often, it is used with jaw surgery to correct the teeth in position before and after the surgery.

2) Oral Prophylaxis: Simple teeth cleaning would be effective in shrinking the gums if they had enlarged due to the presence of tartar. Deep cleaning below the gums can be added in stages if the inflammation associated is very high.

3) Lip Surgery: Lengthening of the upper lip by a surgical procedure can cover up a significant portion of the gums that are displayed during the smile. Frequently, it is done by a plastic surgeon in combination with an oral surgeon. A hyperactive lip can also be corrected with a similar procedure.

4) Gum Lift Surgery: Excessive gum growth can be removed by means of gum lift surgery and thereby restoring the gums to their original position. In case of jaw overgrowth, and sometimes, when jaw surgery is not feasible, camouflage gum surgery is performed to make the gums appear shorter. The gums are reshaped according to the requirement, and the recovery can be within a week. Of course, the procedure has its limitation that a maximum of only 2 to 3 mm correction is possible.

5) Jaw Surgery: Overgrowth of the upper jaw can only be amended by means of corrective surgery. The vertical height of the upper jaw has to be reduced in the procedure leading to upward displacement of the entire jaw. The surgical procedure will always be carried out by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon after careful planning, and it is done in combination with pre-surgical and post-surgical orthodontic treatment. This procedure is highly effective in that even defects of up to 10 to 12 mm can be corrected, resulting in a whole new appearance of the person. If adequate vertical displacement is not achieved using jaw surgery, then it can be combined with gum lift surgery to get rid of the gummy smile.

6) Muscle Relaxant Injections for Overactive Lips: Anti-wrinkle injections like Botulinum toxin (Botox) can be injected in and around the upper lip area to make it less flabby and seem longer. This is a temporary treatment and might have to be repeated every few months.

7) Crowns or Veneers: Short teeth can be compensated by placing crowns or veneers on the upper front teeth, which are longer and thereby restoring the normal height of the teeth. This type of treatment is done when orthodontic treatment is not possible, and also it is a time concern, but this type of treatment can be finished within a week.

Can a Gummy Smile Be Corrected Without Surgery?

It indeed depends on the causative factor for such a smile. Camouflage treatment can be done using gum lift surgery and crowns, but if there is a jaw defect, surgery is the only option.

What Will Happen if a Gummy Smile Is Not Corrected?

Without correction, there is a chance that the person may not smile freely with confidence. They may cover the mouth while smiling or restrict the smile to minimize the show of their gums. This may cause low self-esteem, insecurity, poor relationship skills, and overall poor personality.

Is Jaw Surgery Safe for the Correction of a Gummy Smile?

With the current technology and with the use of three-dimensional planning software, it is possible to plan the surgery accurately and predict the result beforehand.

Can Laser Treatment Help in Gummy Smile Correction?

LASERs are used in gum lift surgeries and can provide accurate shape to the gums after surgery. This technique is also bloodless, and recovery is quite fast. It can also be used for depigmentation of the gums and making them appear pink rather than a blackish shade.

Can a Gummy Smile Cause Other Problems Apart From Poor Appearance?

The gums in the upper front teeth area can easily get inflamed and cause bleeding or discomfort while brushing. Sometimes it can be the first indication of gum overgrowth due to intake of certain drugs.


With the advent of so many treatment options, there is no need to carry the burden of a gummy smile throughout your life. Correction can result in shifting the focus from the gums to the teeth while smiling. Facial harmony can be achieved after the correction resulting in a balance between the smile and the rest of the face. This can allow the person to smile freely without any inhibition and improves their confidence. The dentist will decide treatment based on the causative factors, and most frequently, it will be a combination of one or more treatments to get an optimal result.


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Last reviewed at:
05 Jun 2021  -  4 min read


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