Everyone is different. Their muscles work differently. The way they exert them differs in rhythm, force, and duration. Even people of similar body type and weight and strength and bone structure can have widely different ways and speeds of smiling. Another way to put this is to say that the movements of their smiles vary in animation.

People with excess gum may have a static smile and therefore show very little gum. Static smiles, once their smiles are fully operational, show perhaps 0 to 1 mm of gum. However, that same amount of gumminess in an individual who has a dynamic, animated smile will be problematic. 

Some dynamic smiles who have a gummy problem will not in fact show it in their basic smile. However, because their muscular movement is animated, they may go too quickly from showing very little tooth and gum in that basic smile to showing remarkable amount in a large,expanded smile. That sudden display is shocking for people to see. It would be better to show gum all the time than to go from showing little gum to a lot of gum.

If your smile is animated in this way, the question is whether you show gum nearly all the time or very little until you smile, then, boom, it hits everyone is sight.

Before exploring an aesthetic solution, you and your dentist should determine whether the problem is health-related. If, in instance, you have gingivitis or periodontal disease, that must be dealt with first (and may require the services of a periodontist). This treatment may actually clear up your problem.If not, there are several aesthetic solutions.Gummy smiles can generally be treated either by putting crowns or veneers on the teeth to lengthen them or through a simple correction of the gums. 

There are five main types of gum solutions 

Level 1: Sometimes a person will have a gum line that, from birth, has never receded properly. The person appears to have a gummy smile because there is excess gum for the amount of anatomical tooth beneath the gum. X-rays would show the parts of the teeth below the gum that could be exposed. The excess gum can be easily removed with a procedure no more complicated than removing excess cuticle from your fingernails – though in this case it is done with a laser. The procedure was painless. It doesn’t require sutures. A topical anesthetic can be used to make the patient more comfortable.Within five to ten minutes, the excess gum is trimmed away, never to grow again, exposing the long, full, beautiful teeth that have been buried under tissue.

Level 2: Sometimes the teeth are in their correct position in relation to the gums, but too much gum is showing between the teeth and the lip line because the person has a very animated smile. This can be corrected, but it may require a more advanced appraisal to determine how much gum can be removed. This appraisal is done through a procedure called sounding. Using a thin metal probe, the dentist is able to determine how much gum can be removed by the laser without weakening the underlying structure.

Sometimes gum reduction is clearly needed aesthetically but is problematic dentally because the underlying bone is too close to the gum. Not only does the gum have to be removed, but part of the underlying bone has to be removed as well. The procedure for doing this usually requires a periodontal and laser treatment. An extended period of time must be allowed for healing before veneers or crowns are placed on the teeth.

Level 4: Some patients clearly have a gummy smile but the teeth, gums, and bone are perfectly positioned, leaving no room to adjust any variable. In such a case, a surgical technique can be performed in which the jaw itself is moved up so that when the patient smiles the gum will not be seen to as great an extent. The gums, bone, and teeth are moved in conjunction with each other to eliminate the gummy smile. This surgical procedure is called a palatal impaction or La Forte procedure.

Level 5: There are cases in which the patient’s teeth, gum, and bone are in proper aesthetic relationship to each other, but the patient animates too much when smiling – their lip is stretchy ,jumping really high and showing too much gum. The solution here does not involve moving the gums, or the bone, or the teeth – or even performing jaw surgery. It is to do a lip reduction. The patient’s lip is actually sutured down so it does not pop up so high during smiling. This procedure is often referred to as Kamer’s technique, which effectively lowers the height of the gingival labial synechia. This surgically created synechia partially tethers the upper lip.

Treating the Gummy Smile

Non-Surgical Botox  

Botox injections is a simple and temporary correction that is non-invasive and allows you to see results before trying surgery. The injections will weaken/paralyze the muscles of the upper lip to control the amount of lip retraction so that more of your gums are covered when you speak and smile. The amount of injections depends on how strong the muscle is and sometimes, the muscle is just too strong or the gummy condition too extensive for any effective results. This treatment option is only temporary and must be repeated every 3-9 months to maintain your new smile.


Some surgeries to correct gummy smiles are more invasive than others and treatment recommendations will depend on the severity and type of gummy smile. It is also common to combine treatments to help achieve the best result.

Lip repositioning

This involves making a small incision along the gum tissue to separate the inside of the upper lip from where it meets the gum line and re positioning it. This will limit the retracting movement of the lip and allow it to assume a lower position over the gums and keep closer to the teeth when you smile. This is a permanent procedure with a quick healing time and minimal after-surgery discomfort. 

Short lip length – If the length of your upper lip is too short then it may not adequately cover your gums. This is often successfully corrected with lip repositioning surgery

Jaw Orientation – The position of your upper jaw and the amount of vertical length can be excessive and interfere with the lip’s coverage of your upper gums. Orthognathic surgery may be needed in order to re position the entire upper jaw so that it is more proportionate for an aesthetically pleasing smile.

Frenulum Attachment– If you lift up your upper lip you will notice that there is an extension of tissue that attaches the inside of your upper lip to the gums. This is called a frenulum and a surgical procedure can be done using local anesthetic to cut and release or elongate this tissue so that your upper lip can then cover your gums more. 

Short teeth – Gum tissue is removed to reveal more tooth crown or to achieve a more proportionately amount of visible gum line. Using a laser or electro-surgical cauterizing tool, the gums are re-contoured to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing shape, symmetry, length of the gum line. This is often done when teeth are short due to insufficient eruption and sometimes, the underlying bone may also need to be re-shaped. 

Strong levator muscles – If the lifting (levator) muscles in the upper lip are causing the lip to pull back too far when smiling, they can be surgically cut and weakened to reduce this pulling action. The incision is made on the inside of the lip so that the scar will not show.

Medical conditions/Medications – Some medical conditions and/or their therapies can cause an abnormal overgrowth of gum tissue which covers the crown portion of the tooth. The gum tissue can be trimmed back to reveal more tooth structure. 

Your Smile is a wonderful expression and we hope you have many reasons to use it!