A gummy smile, known as excessive gum showing. It is when you smile and too much gum tissue shows above the top teeth. Many patients who are concerned about a gummy smile often say it makes them feel self-conscious or that their smile seems less attractive. About 10 to 25% of all adults are frustrated with the amount of gumline shown when they smile.

In this column, we will discuss the gummy smile. What is it and introduce one of the innovative ways to address this concern?

While a glimpse of the gumline during a smile is pleasant to see, excessive gum display is often considered undesirable. Commonly referred to as a gummy smile, an excessive exposure of gum can result from excessive gum growth. While healthy, beautiful teeth and gums are essential for an attractive smile, overexposed gums make many people feel self-conscious and unattractive. This excess exposed gum is an embarrassment to many and can eventually result in a lack of self-confidence.

As periodontal specialists we recognize that a gummy smile varies from person to person. The standard rule of thumb is that we conclude a “gummy smile” when four millimeters (mm) or more of the gums show when you smile.

Fortunately, for most patients we can manage this gum prominence and make your smile more attractive.

What causes a Gummy Smile?

Perhaps the most common cause of a gummy smile is simply having too much gum tissue. During the eruption of permanent teeth, sometimes there’s an overgrowth of gum tissue that covers much of the teeth. This will result in a gummy appearance.

It could be your teeth didn’t erupt completely during oral development. A mature crown (the visible part of the tooth) length is normally about 10 mm in length. However, an abnormal eruption could result in teeth that appear too short, which can make the gums stand out more.

Another potential cause, is how far your upper lip rises when you smile. Normally the lip rises only enough to reveal about 4 mm of teeth. In some cases, though, it may rise too high and show more of the gums.

Some persons have a short upper lip (if a patient has an extremely short upper lip it’s not going to cover their gum and their upper teeth).

Also, there are other anatomical reasons creating situations where the upper gums are very prominent when smiling. Examples include altered passive eruption of teeth (short teeth) and over growth of gum tissue.

Gummy smiles can be corrected. In 1988, gum specialist Dr. Alex A. Farnoosh developed an innovative procedure to correct a gummy smile that has helped thousands of people. This lip lowering procedure is one of the options for gummy smile correction. This treatment involves repositioning the upper lip so that less of the gum line is exposed when smiling. Lip lowering requires a significantly shorter recovery period than jaw surgery and has very little risks and side effects.

Other options include the following:

  • Botox treatment
  • Crown lengthening procedure in which excess gum tissue is removed with a laser
  • Braces can used in limited cases
  • Gum surgery (Crown lengthening) in cases of short teeth.

Benefits of Lip Repositioning:

  • Immediately improves the appearance of a ‘gummy smile’
  • Creates a proportionate amount of gum, teeth, and lip
  • Gives the top lip a fuller, more esthetically pleasing look
  • Requires only local anesthesia
  • Fast recovery with little downtime
  • Does not result in external scarring
  • Quickly restores confidence and self-esteem

The innovation of the Lip Repositioning Procedure has given many gum specialists another option to assist patients toward the journey to good health and wellness. It also brings a harmonious balance to the teeth, lips and gums; restoring confidence in your appearance once again.


Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or [email protected] 

*photo credit: The Smile Clinique

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.