A “gummy smile” happens when a significant amount of a person’s gums are visible when they smile. Although gummy smiles occur naturally and don’t usually affect the health of the person’s teeth or gums, many people with gummy smiles are self-conscious about their smiles. Fortunately, there are several different options for correction of a gummy smile.
Gummy smiles can range from a mild gummy smile in which only a little gum tissue shows when the patient smiles to a severe gummy smile in which more gum tissue shows than teeth. Mild to moderate gummy smiles can usually be corrected using a procedure called a gingivectomy. In many cases, a gummy smile is the result of excessive gum tissue that covers the tooth enamel. The teeth appear short and poorly proportioned and the patient’s gums show when the smile.
In a gingivectomy excess gum tissue is removed to reduce the amount of gum tissue and expose more the tooth. This procedure is sometimes accomplished using a laser and can be done in the office using local anesthetic. This procedure is minimally invasive and the gums usually heal within about two weeks. A gingivectomy results in a higher gum line and the appearance of longer, better proportioned teeth. In many cases, the gingivectomy alone will achieve the desired results although some patients may benefit from veneers or tooth shaping.
For more severe cases of gummy smile, a crown lengthening may be necessary in which the gum tissue is surgically lifted from each tooth, repositioned, and sutured into place. This procedure is somewhat more invasive than a gingivectomy and takes longer to heal. Once the gums heal, crowns or porcelain veneers are placed to achieve a beautiful smile.
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