Gummy Smile

Gummy Smile


There are many reasons why you may have a gummy smile. The teeth may be too small, they may be crooked, or chipped. Teeth may also have gaps between them, or your upper lip may be hyperactive.

A gummy smile (also known as an Excessive Gingival Display) is typically described as visually exposing more than 4mm of your gum when smiling.

Given the reasons that a gummy smile can be the result due to a few reasons, it can also be treated in an increasingly wide variety of ways, with the chosen treatment resulting in both temporary and permanent solutions.

If you are unhappy with a gummy smile, you should first consult your dentist to determine the cause of your gummy smile. This can be determined by arranging X-rays and other tests that can help to determine the exact cause of your gummy smile before deciding which type of treatment will be most suitable for your individual needs.

Who are Good Candidates for Treatments for a Gummy Smile?

A simple guideline to determine a gummy smile is when there is approximately 4mm of gum exposed while smiling.

Some of the reasons a gummy smile can occur are listed below:

  • Tooth issues, including too-small teeth
  • Gum issues. Gums can grow too far over teeth for a variety of issues including gum disease and hygiene concerns.
  • Lip issues – hyperactive lip describes a condition when the muscles around the lips are too strong. This can stretch the lips to reveal more gum tissue than usual when smiling. Typically, the lips will move 6-8mm from its resting position to a full smile position, but hyperactive lips travel further than this. The lips can also be too short, allowing too much gum even when the jaw and teeth size are standard.
  • Jaw issues. One of the more common causes of a gummy smile is the upper jaw is longer, compared to the size of the face – exposing an excessive amount of gum tissue visible on both sides of the teeth.


The procedures to address a gummy smile depend on the cause of the condition. Your dentist is the most appropriate healthcare professional to assess and determine the cause – and the recommended procedure to address your gummy smile. These procedural options vary both in cost, complexity, longevity of the results and the associated possible risks involved.

The Most Common Procedures to Address a Gummy Smile Include:

  • Gingivectomy/Gum lift
  • Orthodontic treatment
  • Professional teeth cleaning
  • Jaw surgery
  • Lip surgery
  • Muscle relaxant injections

Gingivectomy/Gum lift

Treating gingivectomy that may result in overgrown gums can be one of the best treatments for this cause of a gummy smile. This periodontal surgery is also known as a ‘gum lift’. A gingivectomy can be completed in as little as one appointment with your dentist or periodontist.

The ‘Gum Lift’ procedure can involve the use of a laser to quickly and effectively reshape and remove the excess gum tissue. This treatment will result in effectively shortening the height of where the gums are placed, creating more symmetry to the gum line while revealing more of the tooth to lengthen the appearance of the teeth and thus, improving the overall appearance of your smile.

Orthodontic Treatment

If a gummy smile has been caused by tooth issues as mentioned above where teeth have erupted too far, braces can be used to push the teeth back to their correct position into the gums. Once the teeth and gums have moved up to the optimal placement, cosmetic dental treatments such as veneers or crowns can then be added to restore the tooth structure, so the bite still matches between the top and bottom teeth.

Professional Teeth Cleaning

Your gums can also swell due to gum disease or in some cases, because of medications. Swelling can be treated by professionally cleaning the teeth and root surfaces. You should also consult your dentist to find out if there are alternative medication options that don’t produce this side effect.

Jaw Surgery

In certain cases where the jaw is severely too large (this is typically defined by more than 7mm of gum exposed). A bone shortening procedure known as Orthognathic surgery can be performed by a specialist orthodontist and oral surgeon. In these more dramatic circumstances, this can involve surgically moving the entire jaw upwards.

Lip Surgery

A hyperactive or hypermobile lip can be successfully treated with permanent surgery by an oral or plastic surgeon to restrict the motion of the upper lip. If the anatomy of the lip is too short, there is a surgical procedure that can be performed to lengthen the lip.

Muscle Relaxant Injections for a Gummy Smile

Increasingly common and very effective in many cases is the use of muscle relaxants (anti-wrinkle injections). As one of the simplest gummy smile treatments available, when injected into the correct area, it temporarily paralyses the muscle which lifts the lip too high, with the results lasting approximately six months.

Although there are several brands of muscle relaxant injections, each contains the same active ingredient, that is, Botulinum Toxin A. Muscle relaxant injections contain sterile proteins that inhibit muscle contraction, thus reducing the strength of the muscle. Over time, muscle relaxants are eliminated from the body, eventually allowing muscles their normal function, so this treatment will need to be eventually repeated.

Your dentist is the most qualified to decide on the dosage of the muscle relaxant that is required for your individual needs. After muscle relaxant treatments, typically the muscles will be prevented from overly contracting, resulting in the upper lip relaxing, rather than overly extending and exposing excess gum when you smile.

Risks and Complications

As with any procedure, especially surgical, it is important that you choose a qualified and experienced dental surgeon or orthodontist to undertake any procedure. The increasingly common (and successful) use of muscle relaxant injections to address a gummy smile is a safe and effective treatment.

As with all medications, there is a small potential to cause side effects in rare cases. Your dentist or orthodontist should discuss all the available and suitable options in advance with you prior to treatment, and only after thoroughly assessing your health and medical history before treatment. This cautious approach should minimise any, if all risks of complications.


Q. How do I know what causes my gummy smile and what treatment will best suit me?
A. You should consult your dentist, orthodontist or dental surgeon if it is advised that you may require surgery to address your gummy smile. If your dentist is not qualified or experienced to carry out a surgical treatment you would be referred to the appropriate professional.

Q. If I use muscle relaxant injections to treat my gummy smile, how often will I need to repeat the procedure?
A. Typically it takes between one to two weeks for muscle relaxants to work. Once you have the desired effect, you would need to repeat the treatment about every 6 months.

Q. What is the price to treat a gummy smile?
A. This will vary greatly, depending on the cause of your gummy smile. The price between a surgical solution and the use of muscle relaxant injections varies greatly, so consult your dental professional to determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances. The good news is there is an increasingly wide variety of treatments available, many of these are far less expensive than previously available.

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