What Causes A Gummy Smile? How Can It Be Corrected?

Are you always covering your smile because you feel like you have an excessive amount of gum tissue compared to your teeth? “Gummy” smiles, technically known as excessive gingival displays, can affect the cosmetic appearance of your smile due to prominent gums. This is a common condition but it can still leave you feeling self-conscious. The team here at Boger Dental wants to help you enhance your smile and your life, and our treatments for a gummy smile are one way to do that! To learn more about what causes this condition and how we can treat it, keep reading below. 

What qualifies a smile as “gummy”? What causes it?

We generally define a smile as “gummy” when 4 millimeters of gum tissue shows. For reference, that’s just over 1/8 of an inch. There are many different reasons for an excess of gum tissue, from genetics to side effects caused by teeth or jaw issues. It’s important to work with one of our dentists to understand the root cause of your condition. This will ensure you receive the best treatment to adjust and emphasize your natural smile! Here are some of the most common causes of a gummy smile. 

Your gums—Teeth that appear too short in relation to your gums may be covered by an excess of gum tissues. 

Your teeth—The teeth can sometimes emerge in the mouth at different heights, with some growing in shorter than others. A tooth grinding habit can also wear the teeth down and cause them to become shorter over time. This can lead to something known as compensatory eruption, where the teeth actually begin to slowly move outward from the gum to compensate for the extra wear and tear. All three of these scenarios can give the smile a gummy appearance. 

Your upper lip—The average upper lip moves 6 to 8 millimeters from its normal resting position to achieve a full smile. A hypermobile upper lip rises much further than that, revealing additional gum tissue. 

Your jaw—Sometimes the upper jaw, or maxilla, is too long for the face. This condition is referred to as Vertical Maxillary Excess (VME) and can be treated with orthognathic surgery. 

What Causes A Gummy Smile? How Can It Be Corrected?

What treatments are available for correcting a gummy smile?

Your smile line describes the teeth that are showing when you are smiling. This is determined by several factors, including:

  • the shape and size of your lips
  • the size and shape of your teeth 
  • your facial muscles
  • your gum tissue

The most optimal smile line will be one that reveals the least amount of gum tissue possible. We want to see the visible gum tissue have balanced and even contours that are in harmony with the upper lip. This is a big reason why patients with a gummy smile feel insecure about it! But aesthetics aren’t always the only thing affected by excess gum tissue. If underlying dental conditions are present, such as abnormal tooth eruption or jaw development, you may also have a misaligned bite that can impact your long-term oral health. Let’s look at some of the treatments available to address the issues associated with a gummy smile! 

Scaling and root planing

If we’re treating a gummy smile that’s caused by inflamed or infected gums, the best place to start is with a deep professional dental cleaning called scaling and root planing. This advanced cleaning can reach deep into the gum pockets around each tooth to remove bacteria and help any infection heal. Once the infection is gone, inflammation will normally subside and the gummy appearance of the smile along with it. 

Veneers or crowns

If there aren’t any major underlying issues causing a patient’s gummy smile, veneers or crowns can be good non-invasive treatment options. These are attached to the teeth to make them appear longer, larger, and more proportionate to the gums. 

Gum lift or crown lengthening

When too much gum tissue is covering the teeth, a gum lift or crown lengthening may be the best treatment option. A gum lift procedure removes some of the tissue around the teeth and restructures the gum line to be higher. This results in showing more teeth than gums. If there’s an abundance of gum tissue present, we may recommend crown lengthening treatment. This not only restructures the gums but also changes the bone around the teeth.

Lip lowering

This treatment doesn’t literally lower your lip. A small section of gum tissue under the upper lip is removed before the top and bottom are stitched together. This creates a shorter lip that isn’t able to rise as high as it used to, so it covers more of the gum tissue and reduces the appearance of a gummy smile.

Botox can also be helpful for hyperactive upper lips! Injecting Botox into the upper lip will limit its range of movement, reducing the amount of gum tissue shown when the patient smiles. This minimally invasive solution wears off in about 3-6 months.


If a gummy smile is caused by a bad bite, orthodontic treatment like braces or clear aligners can help. This will correct the bite and reduce the amount of gum tissue that shows when smiling, laughing, or talking. Aligning your smile can also alleviate symptoms like jaw and neck pain!

What Causes A Gummy Smile? How Can It Be Corrected?

Get a confident smile with the expert team at Boger Dental 

A gummy smile isn’t always due to an underlying dental issue that needs to be fixed. Treatments like crowns, veneers, and crown lengthening are minimally invasive and help your gums look more proportionate to your teeth. Depending on your needs and goals, you can also choose between permanent and temporary solutions.

If you’re interested in correcting your gummy smile or the underlying issues causing it, our expert team will be happy to walk you through your options! Get in touch today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards the best treatment for your smile.