3 Ways to Treat a Gummy Smile

There’s no such thing as the perfect flawless smile, but socially and culturally we perceive certain smiles with specific defined features to be more aesthetically pleasing than others.

In addition to having pearly white anatomically ideal teeth, the amount of gum that’s visible during smiling can also play an important role in the aesthetics of a smile (1).

What’s known as a gummy smile is the condition where some people complain that too much of their gums become visible when they smile. This could be due to several reasons as we explain below.

The good news is that in most cases, it’s quite easy to treat a gummy smile, and there are usually very little serious complications. Depending on the cause, you can consider discussing these 3 options we mention below with your dentist in order to treat your gummy smile.

3 Ways to Treat a Gummy Smile

What is a Gummy Smile?

A Gummy smile is medically classified as a smile that exhibits ‘excessive gingival display’ and exposure during smiling (2).

Ideally when smiling, only around 1-3 mm of gums should be visible (3), anything above this can be considered as a gummy smile.

Though many people who have a gummy smile may be comfortable with it, and don’t see the need to seek any treatment, some studies show that around 10% of 20-30 years old adult consider their smiles as being “too gummy” (4).

The condition itself seems to be more common with women than men (5), and affects almost 14% of women and 7% of men (6).

What causes a Gummy Smile?

Before learning what options there are to treat a gummy smile, it’s important to note that each treatment option usually depends on the cause of a gummy smile.

So what are some causes of a gummy smile?

One of the most common causes of a gummy smile is having a ‘hyper active upper lip’ (7). Some people have a very strong upper lip so that when they smile, the lips pulls upwards strongly and reveals a lot of gum tissue. People with this condition usually complain of having a “thin upper lip” when smiling.

Another common cause of a gummy smile is very simply having an excess of gum (gingival) tissue. In this type of gummy smile, excess gum covers the teeth, making them look smaller in size. It could be due to ginigval inflammation, medication, or just an anatomical variation.

There are other causes of a gummy smile such as having small teeth, worn or broken teeth, hormonal changes such as puberty or pregnancy, abnormal eruption of teeth, and even abnormal vertical growth of the upper jaw (8).

In order to treat a gummy smile, your dentist must first determine what the cause of your gummy smile is, and then treat the cause. Most of the time it’s usually a combination of some or even all the above factors (9).

Gummy Smile treatment

1) Gum surgery for excessive gum (gum lift)

Gum surgery can be done in order to remove excess gum, increase the length of teeth, and ultimately reduce the appearance of a gummy smile (10).

The terms “crown-lengthening”, “gum contouring”, or “gingivectomy” can all be used to refer to this treatment.

During this procedure, the gum line is re-contoured and shaped around the teeth to reach a more aesthetic result (11). The surgery can be done using a traditional surgical blade, or a with a laser (12).

The procedure usually takes around 30 – 60 minutes (13), and requires local anaesthetic. No pain is felt during the actual procedure, however; your gums will be sore for 1-2 days after the surgery, but no bleeding or swelling should happen (14).

The initial result of the procedure can be seen almost immediately after the surgery, but as there bleeding and mild swelling, the aesthetic results can be seen 2 weeks after the surgery, when the healing has been complete.

2) Botox for a hyperactive upper lip

In this procedure, the teeth are usually a normal length, and the gum isn’t in excess. These cases of  gummy smiles are due to the upper lip being quite strong that the it folds and becomes thin, and too much of the gum becomes visible during smiling (15).

In this case, your dentist can inject Botox into your upper lip. Botox is a muscle relaxant, so the muscles in the lip relax, and the lip doesn’t pull or fold so much when smiling.

Another benefit to that is that the lip becomes fuller and more richer looking. After getting Botox injections to your lips, your smile will look much more natural, and your lips will look fuller with more volume as it doesn’t fold as much.

Botox injections to reduce a gummy smile can be considered as a very safe, quick, and minimally invasive option to treat a gummy smile. But the procedure needs to be repeated every 6 months or so, as Botox usually only lasts 3-6 months (16).

3) Increasing the length of small teeth

Sometimes the cause of a gummy smile can be because the size and shape of your teeth are actually too small.

If this is the case, the teeth could be made to look longer by increasing the size and shape, causing a better proportion when smiling and reducing the appearance of a gummy smile.

The length of your teeth may be increased by several cosmetic dental options such as porcelain dental veneers, composite resin bonding. If your gummy smile is caused by an orthodontic problem, such as abnormal growth of your jawbone, then you may need to see an orthodontist and wear braces.

How much does a Gummy Smile treatment cost?

The price of a gummy smile treatment will depend on the treatment option you choose.

Gum lift surgeries (gingivectomy) cost $2000 on average (17), with a range of around $300 – $3000.

Getting Botox injections to treat a gummy smile could be a much cheaper option, but bear in mind that it must be renewed around two or three times a year, as the effects of the Botox will wear out. Expect to pay around $200-$300 per Botox session (18).

Gummy Smile treatment before and after

View this post on Instagram

My lovely client was self councious about her gummy smile and has regular treatment. A small amount of anti-wrinkle Injection has been used to reduce the elevation of the top lip as the muscles used to pull the top lip up was quite strong. Love how subtle yet confidence- boosting this result is. ✨ Thank you to my gorgeous client for sharing your results . . . . . #gummysmilecorrection #goldcoastlife #beauty #beautybloggers #goldcoastlifestyle #wearegoldcoast #antiwrinkle #musclerelaxant #antiwrinkleinjections #cosmeticnurse #cosmeticnurseinjector #naturalresults #antiageing #goldcoastbusiness #goldcoast #burleighheads #smile #beautifulsmile #nurseinjevtor#lipinjections #cosmeticdoctor

A post shared by Registered Aesthetic Nurse (@cosmetic.nurse.penny) on


Written by Dr. Khaled Mahmoud

Khaled Mahmoud completed his dental education and obtained his Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) in 2017. His interests lie in cosmetic dentistry and non-surgical facial aesthetics. He is active in dental research, contemporary cosmetic materials and techniques, and has been a member of numerous public health outreach programs.