What Causes a Gummy Smile and Can It be Fixed?

Excessive gingival display, also called a “gummy smile,” is when there’s too much gum tissue visible above your top teeth. We see patients all the time here at Smiles of Palmetto Bay who have concerns about their gummy smiles making them feel self-conscious. Lucky for our patients, a gummy smile can be corrected with orthodontic treatment! 

There are a few different causes of gummy smiles, and each one will require a different method of treatment. Dr. Martinez and Dr. Ross have the experience and expertise to help you get the smile you want. Let’s look at what causes a gummy smile and how our team can fix it.

What is a gummy smile?

A gummy smile doesn’t have one specific definition. Since it is primarily based on perception, you’ll probably know a gummy smile when you see it. In most cases, people like smiles that expose two millimeters or less of gum tissue. Any more than that, most people considered a smile “too gummy.” 

What causes a gummy smile?

There are a few causes of a gummy smile, so let’s take a look at the more common ones:

  • Teeth that appear short due to premature eruption and remain partially covered by gum tissue
  • Teeth that are small in comparison to the gums due to genetics or wear and tear
  • A short upper lip
  • A hyperactive upper lip that is normal in length when the face is resting but raises too high when smiling
  • Gums that are long or enlarged, known as gingival hypertrophy
  • An overgrowth of the upper jaw, called vertical maxillary excess, makes gums bulge out

What do all of these causes have in common? They’re all related to the teeth, lips, jaws, or gums. These are critical components of your smile! An aesthetically pleasing smile is all about proportion, so if one aspect is misaligned, it can throw off the balance of your whole smile. Unfortunately, many factors contributing to gummy smiles are genetic, so they can’t be prevented. With a bit of help from the team at Smiles of Palmetto Bay, you can get a pleasant smile in no time.

Treatment Options for Gummy Smiles

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

An optimal smile line will reveal the least amount of gum tissue possible. We want to see the visible gum tissue has 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! However, 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. So how can this issue be treated? Let’s take a look:


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

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 gum tissue present is abundant, we may recommend crown lengthening treatment. This not only restructures the gums but also changes the bone around the teeth.

Lip Lowering

Don’t let the name fool you, 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.

What Causes a Gummy Smile and Can It be Fixed?

Your best smile is waiting for you at Smiles of Palmetto Bay

Dr. Martinez and Dr. Ross are experienced orthodontists, both skilled in providing high-quality care to patients of all ages in Palmetto Bay and the surrounding communities. Our team offers personalized care from our state-of-the-art office, using advanced technology to give patients exceptional results! If you’re looking for the best in orthodontic care in the area, look no further—Smiles of Palmetto Bay is ready to help you achieve the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted. Get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation