Can You Reduce a Gummy Smile Without Doing a Surgical Procedure?

I just recently had jaw surgery to correct my overbite. I assumed that this procedure would reduce my gummy smile. But that didn't end up happening. I want to get rid of the gumminess but don't want to go through another surgical procedure and I also don't want to pay too much for this correction.

What are my options at this point? And could veneers be a possible option for me. Should I talk to my Orthodontist surgeon or my orthodontist about it?

Doctor Answers 20

Gummy smiles usually need surgery of some kind

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Depending on how severe the gummy smile is, surgery may be the only option. If that was a desire from the first surgery, it should have been clearly stated, as surgery for an overbite normally has zero effect on a gummy smile. It is possible that the surgeon's only goal was the overbite.

If the gummy smile is extreme, Botox will have very little effect. SOME, but perhaps not as much as desired. Lip tacking or lip lengthening surgeries are moderately successful, as quite often the results are not as dramatic as hoped. Soft tissue solutions for hard tissue problems are known for being unpredictable.

If the roots of the teeth are long enough, a crown lengthening procedure may be an option, but that is still a surgery. This is where bone around the teeth is removed, perhaps 2 mm, and when the tissue heals more teeth are exposed. This WILL make the teeth look longer, so if they are already the right size, then another surgery should be considered (like having bone above the teeth removed, like a Lefort Osteotomy).

I suggest a consultation with a few surgeons and periodontists to see what would work best for you. If it is minor, laser gingivectomy might be enough.

Correcting excessive gingival display

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Difficult to do without surgery.  Botox can work but lots of people end up looking distorted but it only lasts 10-12 weeks and gets very expensive over time
Laser surgery is ok for minor exposure but if major you can do a reverse vestibuloplasty.  These are minor surgeries compared to jaw surgery.

Since you don't want surgery widening the arch with a DNA Appliance can usually correct the problem but this is not inexpensive.  

The inexpensive alternative don't smile to large.  I have patients who practicew how they smile to control gummy exposure.  Not the best solution but inexpensive and no surgery


Gummy smile

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Correction of gummy smile depends on few things.

The length of the teeth - If the teeth are in a proper size in relation to your face then, then you should not have a gingivectom (gum surgery).

Length of the upper lip - Short upper lips (rare) can cause too much revealing of the gums. Your plastic surgeon could probably enhance it with fillers or Botox injections. This could become costly as well over time.

If none of the above, then unfortunately, the surgery has to be re-done to correct the maxillary excess (which is usually the cause).

Majid Jamali, DMD
New York Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Gummy Smile

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I am a "laser dentist" using the Biolase laser.  Let me set the record straight here that it has its limitations.  It is good for maybe raising the gum line 2 millimeters not much more.  For more result you should have conventions esthetic crown lengthening which is a very minimally invasive surgery.  You have to be sure that your teeth are able to have crown lengthening and how much.  This depends on your crowns and your roots and can be determined by exam and x-rays

Lawrence Singer, DMD
Washington Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

How to Reduce a Gummy Smile

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This is a very common complaint with women who like their teeth and are unhappy with their smile because too much of the gum shows when they smile.  A very quick and non invasive approach to this problem, is to use a laser to conture the gum line and reduce the length of the gum,  This will make the teeth look much longer and a proportionate amount of gum line will be visible at the top of the tooth,  You can always opt forTheraputic Botox which will, in essence, show less of the gum, but you will have to come in periodically to maintain your smile.  I think Laser Gum Conturing is the answer here!  Find a good periodontist who is well versed with lasers and most dentists, both general and cosmetic, can do this procedure very well!  You will be happy with the results!

George Koutsoukos, DDS
Valencia Dentist

Vertical Maxillary Excess can be corrected long term

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Hi there-

The problem you describe, in which you show too much gum when smiling, is called vertical maxillary excess, and can be effectively corrected for a beautiful long term result. I would talk to my surgeon about it if I were you.

The problem with non-surgical options like Botox for problems in the lower face is that the result (because it depends on muscular paralysis) is often strange looking or unnatural.

Better to have a lovely smile. Talk to your surgeon.

Upper lip lengthening

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Although this is a surgical procedure, you can do a lip lengthening procedure on the inside of your upper lip under local anesthetic like a dental procedure. There are a number of types of surgeries from release or elongation of the frenulum, W-plasty, V-Y advancement, muscle release, etc. that your surgeon can explain to you and what they would do to help the gummy smile.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Fixing a gummy smile

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A picture would be helpful :)

A gummy smile can not be corrected with anything other than surgery unless you have no teeth and just need a denture made.

Either we are removing gum tissue or we are altering the manner in which your lip lifts - both of which are surgical procedures.

Thomas Connelly, DDS
Beverly Hills Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Gummy Smile

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Hi from Canada!  I so understand that you do NOT want to do another surgery!  I would try Botox and also crown lengthening. Now the latter is a surgery, but it is an easy one using laser gum contouring, which will show less gum and more tooth!  I would try these procedures before you start getting involved in heavy duty surgery to create a smile that you may not be happy with. Also I would explore the use of Botox injected to try and relax your Masseter Muscle, which will help relax your upper lip and show less gum. I would do all the less invasive procedures first an see what the results are!

Vachik Danoukh, DMD
Van Nuys Dentist

Non-Surgical Options Are Available

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Thanks for your question, Yassamin. Without a photo, it's impossible for me to predict your eligibility for a non-surgical procedure. Typically, these procedures are indicated for more mild cases of gummy smile. BOTOX is one option that controls the movement of the upper lip, reducing the degree to which it retracts and thus covering more of the gums when you smile. Laser gum contouring is another possibility that doesn't require surgery, as are veneers. It really depends on the nature of your condition. Please see your orthodontist or an aesthetic dentist to fully understand your options.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.