You Don’t Have to Live With a Gummy Smile
“Gummy smile” is the colloquial term for excessive gingival display, a condition that can mar happy occasions by making you hesitant to smile. It’s not typically a medical concern, per se, but patients living with a gummy smile often go to great lengths to avoid situations like taking photos, which can be alienating and make you feel self-conscious. That’s why today’s cosmetic dentists, periodontists, and plastic surgeons are making gummy smile treatments more accessible and versatile than ever.
The appearance of a gummy smile can have an array of different causes. Dr. Alex Farnoosh, a cosmetic dentist in Beverly Hills who specializes in gummy smiles, says the most common culprits are excessive gum tissue and an upper lip that rises significantly when a person smiles. In more severe cases, excessive gum tissue, a hypermobile upper lip, and other factors may work together to create a gummy smile. Although it often appears as if the teeth are “too short,” most gummy smile patients actually have normal-sized teeth — they are merely concealed by the gums.
Plastic surgeons, periodontists, and cosmetic dentists offer a wealth of options that can treat gummy smile in accordance with your budget, lifestyle, and the nature of your condition.
For patients with more mild symptoms (or simply those who wish to avoid surgery), both BOTOX® and laser treatments can help — although they work in different ways. Many people associate BOTOX and lasers with wrinkle reduction, but both are much more versatile.
BOTOX belongs to a class of drugs called neuromodulators, which work by temporarily interrupting signals that the brain sends to the nerves. These signals are what the brain uses to move muscles, so when they’re interrupted by BOTOX, the movement is prevented. In the context of treating a gummy smile, a trained injector places BOTOX into areas of the cheeks and above the lips. As the BOTOX takes effect, the activity in these muscles slows down and keeps the lip low, even when smiling.
For patients with an excessive amount of gum tissue, laser gum reshaping may be a more appropriate option. Laser reshaping reduces some gum tissue to create better contours around the teeth. In a laser reshaping procedure, the patient is typically awake, and the dentist or periodontist uses local anesthesia to minimize discomfort.
Surgical remedies are often the best approach for more significant cases of gummy smile, and they can be performed by plastic surgeons, oral surgeons, or periodontists. If your gummy smile is caused by a hypermobile upper lip, surgical “lip lowering” can be a great help. It’s also possible to remove excess gum tissue and reshape the area for a more aesthetically pleasing look.
Although they’re surgical procedures, both lip lowering and gum contouring generally require minimal downtime. Their results are often more permanent and significant than those of their non-surgical counterparts. The effects of BOTOX injections, for example, will wear off after a few months, making regular follow-up visits necessary.
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