I don’t get it. I really don’t. I don’t understand why girls would go for plastic surgery to raise their nose bridge and cut double eyelids but walk around with a really gummy smile. Or flip a switch over a single freckle or zit, and be ok about uneven gum margins and a totally lopsided smile?
I mean, let’s take a poll here guys. Which is more unattractive? A single zit or an ugly smile? OK, I just asked my five-year-old son and he said: “Ugly smile is uglier.” Not the best way to take a poll, but you catch my drift.
So perhaps, I tell myself, maybe it’s because the girls think gummy smiles cannot be fixed! Studies show that gummy smiles become noticeable when 3mm or more of gums show when smiling. The two ways to fix this is to prevent the upper lip from moving too far upwards or increase the length of the teeth to reduce the amount of gum shown.
There are many factors that cause a gummy smile like an over-active upper lip or excessive gums that cover too much of your teeth.
So the treatment is based on the diagnosis and what is causing you to look too ‘gummy’. Here are some ways to get a better smile!
If your gummy smile is due to an over-active upper lip:
1. Lip repositioning surgery
The lip is cut from the inside and stitched closer to the teeth so the lip cannot retract as much. (Ouch.)
2. Botox the upper lip
Luckily, nowadays, it’s easier to get that stiff upper lip. No need to smile in a certain way or stifle your laughter! You can just get that upper lip botoxed! Only thing is, botox wears out after a few months and you will need to get another botox injection to keep that lip in its place.
If your gummy smile is due to excessive gums:
3. Laser or scalpel gum gingivectomy
Your periodontist can trim your excessive gums using a laser or a scalpel. It’s a very comfortable procedure and the results are immediate. Be warned though. If there is still too much bone underneath the gums in some patients, the gums will regrow back to its original position and the gingivectomy procedure will have to be repeated a few months later. Much like botox.
4. Crown lengthening with osseous surgery
This procedure basically means having your gums and bone trimmed to lengthen your teeth permanently. Some patients have excessive bone which causes excessive gums to form. So when we trim that bone away together with the gums, the final look is, well… final! You get nicely shaped teeth and less gums without having to repeat any procedures.
If your gummy smile is due to a long mid-face:
5. Vertical maxillary impaction
The surgeon will need to embark on corrective jaw surgery, where the whole upper jaw is repositioned upwards. Needless to say, this procedure is much more invasive and you will need much more time to heal!
So there you go.
So many ways to fix a gummy smile, ranging from something temporary to “test the look” to see if you like it (kind of like getting your hair waved with a curler at the salon before you commit to a perm) to getting the gums fixed permanently in that position so it doesn’t become a hassle to go back to your periodontist for repeat procedures.
So remember, before going for that second nose job, why not fix your smile first?
Dr Marlene Teo is a Periodontist (gum specialist) at TP Dental. She holds a joint appointment as Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore. Dr Teo passionately believes in leading a holistic and healthy lifestyle to boost immunity and combat periodontal disease.