Gummy Smile

A gummy smile is defined as an excessive display of gum tissue when you smile. Thankfully, there is nothing dangerous or unhealthy about having a gummy smile. However, some people feel it makes them look unattractive and may even feel reluctant to smile.


A gummy smile is medically known as excessive gingival display. It occurs when a large portion of gum tissue is visible above the top teeth when you smile. Thankfully, there is nothing dangerous or unhealthy about having a gummy smile. It is an entirely benign condition and doesn’t signify any health issues. However, it can be a cosmetic concern for some people. They may feel self-conscious about the prominence of their gums. This sometimes leads them to suppress their smiles or feel less confident in social situations. There are many causes for a gummy smile and people may have one or several. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that can improve this.


There are many reasons for appearing to have a gummy smile. These are the most common causes:

  • Gingival Overgrowth: excessive amount of gingival (gum) tissue can overshadow the teeth. This making them appear shorter than they actually are and the gums appear more prominent.
  • Teeth Size and Shape: sometimes, teeth may be too short or small in proportion to the gums. This is usually due to genetics or other dental issues. Additionally, short or worn down teeth can also give the appearance of increased display of gum tissue.
  • Hyperactive Upper Lip: some people have an over active upper lip muscle. This causes the lip to rise higher than average when they smile and exposes more gum tissue.
  • Thin or Small Lips: if the upper lip is thin or small, it may not adequately cover the gums when smiling.
  • Jawbone Development and Position: the way the jawbone develops and its position can influence the amount of gum tissue on display. Hence, a protruding or misaligned jawbone can sometimes result in a gummy appearance.

It’s worth noting that often, a gummy smile results from a combination of the above factors. This means that a multifaceted approach is needed for treatment.


If having a gummy smile bothers you, there are many options for correction. However, the best treatment depends on pinpointing the underlying cause or causes. Below are the main treatments used to correct gummy smiles.

Dental Procedures

if the cause is due to the teeth or gum tissue then you should visit the dentist who can investigate and offer treatments to address these causes. They can perform procedures like gum contouring or crown lengthening to balance out the gum-to-tooth ratio. Dental procedures can potentially provide a permanent solution and the results are usually immediate. Additionally, its an opportunity for a wider checkup and improving your overall dental health. These procedures however require local anaesthesia and there may be post-procedure discomfort or swelling.

Botox Injections

For gumminess caused by overactive lip muscles, injection of Botox into the hyperactive muscles can help. Injecting Botox into these muscles relaxes them. These results in a reduced upward movement of the upper lip during smiling and hence showing less gum. The key benefits of Botox injections are that they are minimally invasive with swift outcomes. There’s also no prolonged recovery downtime. However, the effect is temporary and needs repeating every 3-4 months which can be expensive in the long term. Furthermore, there are possible side effects including bruising or unintended facial asymmetry.

Lip Enhancement

if the cause of your gummy smile is a thin upper lip, consider lip enhancement with hyaluronic acid dermal fillers. By adding volume to the lips, especially the upper one, the excessive display of gum tissue can be masked. This can also give a more balanced smile. The biggest benefit of lip fillers is that the results are immediate (although there is usually a period of swelling before the results settle). There’s also a dual benefits in that the treatment addresses lip thinness and excessive gum display at the same time. If you opt for hyaluronic acid fillers (which you should always do), the fillers can be dissolved if there is a problem or you don’t like them. However, like Botox, this is a temporary treatment and so will require repeating to maintain the effects. There are also some potential risks and side-effects. These include, allergic reaction, bruising or swelling, asymmetry and vascular occlusion.

Orthodontic Treatment

in cases where jawbone positioning plays a role, orthodontics or even surgical interventions may be necessary to rectify the gummy appearance. This is a definitive treatment that addresses root skeletal or dental misalignments. As such it offers a prolonged or potentially permanent solution for gummy smile correction. It can also improve any functional problems that might have arisen due to the underlying problem. As this is an advanced procedure, there may be some downsides. Firstly, treatment duration can extend over several months or years which will involve lots of follow up visits to adjust your braces, retainers or splints. There may also be an initial down time post procedure and there may be ongoing discomfort with certain devices like braces. Cost is also a key consideration as orthodontic treatment is usually expensive especially if surgery is needed.

Lip Repositioning Surgery

This is a surgical method where the position of the upper lip is adjusted to reduce the exposure of gum tissue and treat gummy smiles. This is a permanent and long term solution that is tailored to your underlying problem. However, there is a recovery period post-surgery. There are also the usual risks of surgery such as infection or scarring. An another important consideration is that this is a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure which is likely to be expensive if you want to see someone trained, qualified and experienced in order to get a good result and reduce risks.

As you can see there are many different types of treatments for correcting a gummy smile. However, it’s essential to consult with a medical professional such as a dentist or doctor, to determine the most appropriate option. They can provide a comprehensive evaluation and guide you toward the best solution or solutions for your causes.

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Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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