Don’t Let a Gummy Smile Get You Down…

In-house experts at state-of-the-art clinic outline the causes and treatments for a gummy smile.

Let’s start with the basics: when smiling, how much gum is too much gum? A recent study by Dr. Kokich Jr. surveyed groups of orthodontists, general practitioners and lay people on what they rated the acceptable gingiva levels when smiling. While GPs stood at a lenient 4mm, the group of lay people pegged their acceptable threshold at 3mm, and orthodontists firmly asserted 2mm as being the acceptable amount of gum showing during a smile.

So at which of the above gingival levels should one seek treatment for a gummy smile?

Woman with gummy smile

“When it bothers the patient,” answers Dr. Kathrin Trelles, Dubai-based implantologist cosmetic laser dentist and founder of state-of-the-art dentistry, plastic and aesthetic laser surgery clinic Vilafortuny. “The ideal target is to get gingival levels under 3mm for patients seeking treatment. But first it is imperative to understand exactly what causes the gummy smile as this will dictate treatment.”

Causes of a gummy smile span a short upper lip, hypermobile lip, vertical maxillary excess (VME), anterior over-eruption, wear and compensatory eruptions, altered active eruption and altered passive eruption. Dr Trelles and her team of experts at Vilafortuny treat a gummy smile in the following ways:

  • Orthodontics

Intrude over erupted teeth and level them to correct position – this eliminates excessive gingival display.

  • Lip repositioning surgery

During this procedure, the muscles that elevate the lip are severed so that the lip can no longer rise as far up while smiling. Here, an irreversible solution diagnosis is the key to a successful outcome.

  • Periodontal surgery

This treatment includes crown lengthening to move gingival levels apically and is typically performed on short teeth. In instances when traditional methods do not work, the surgeons at Vilafortuny can perform a few non-traditional procedures to fix difficult cases.