What is a Gummy Smile?
A gummy smile (Excessive Gingival Display) occurs when too much gum tissue is visible above the upper teeth when smiling and people may feel self-conscious about their smile. In some situations, excessive gum tissue may allow food and bacteria to become trapped under the gum line, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Causes of a Gummy Smile
A gummy smile may occur due to Lip, Jawbone, Tooth and Gum factors either independently or in combination.
- Lip factors The upper lip may be too short and unable to cover the gum tissue and upper teeth at rest and when smiling. Sometimes, the upper lip may be of normal length but the lip muscles are too strong, resulting in hypermobile lips that reveal more gum tissue than usual when smiling.
- Jawbone factors The upper jaw may be genetically longer than normal compared to the rest of the face and lips, resulting in more gum tissue display at rest and when smiling.
- Tooth Factors If the upper front teeth are over-erupted, they may bring the supporting bone and gum tissue down with them resulting in excessive gum tissue on display. Tooth over-eruption may be genetic or may occur as teeth are worn down with use and they continue to erupt to maintain the bite. Occasionally, orthodontic treatment to move the upper front teeth into the jawbone may also lead to increased gum tissue display with the gum tissue being too high on the tooth.
- Gum Factors Gum tissues may be swollen and enlarged due to inflammation because of mouth breathing, poor oral hygiene, and gum disease. In some situations, excessive gum tissue growth can also occur due to genetic factors or as a side effect of some medications. These include some blood pressure, anti-epileptic, and post-organ transplant medications. Incomplete tooth eruption may also result in the teeth appearing short and the gum tissue being too high on the tooth with increased gum tissue display.