Excessive gingival display, also known as a “gummy smile,” is when there is too much gum tissue visible above the top teeth when you smile. At Bennett Orthodontics, we see patients whose gummy smiles make them feel self-conscious. If this sounds relatable to you, we have good news! A gummy smile can be corrected with proper orthodontic treatment.

There are a few different causes of gummy smiles, and each one will require a different treatment. Thankfully, Dr. Bennett has the expertise to help you get the smile you want. Let’s take a look at what causes a gummy smile and what our expert orthodontic team can do about it.

What is a gummy smile?

A gummy smile is a dental issue that doesn’t have one definition. It’s based on perception, so you’ll likely recognize 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 most common ones:

  • A short upper lip
  • A hyperactive upper lip that is normal in length when the face is resting but raises too high when smiling
  • Teeth 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
  • Gums that are long or enlarged, known as gingival hypertrophy
  • An overgrowth of the upper jaw, called vertical maxillary excess, makes gums bulge out

These symptoms are all related to the teeth, lips, jaws, or gums, which happen to be the critical components of your smile! An aesthetically pleasing smile is all about proportion, so if proportions are misaligned, it will throw off the visual balance of your smile. Many factors contributing to gummy smiles are genetic, so unfortunately they can’t be prevented. Luckily, with a bit of help from the team at Bennett Orthodontics, you can get a better smile in no time.

What Causes a Gummy Smile and Can It be Fixed?

Treatment Options for Gummy Smiles

Your smile line describes the teeth that are visible while you’re smiling. This is determined by a few factors, including:

  • Your facial muscles
  • Your gum tissue
  • The shape and size of your lips
  • The size and shape of your teeth 

An optimal smile line will reveal the least amount of gum tissue. We want to see the visible gum tissue has balanced and even contours that are in harmony with the upper lip. 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. Here are some of the treatments available to address a gummy smile: 

Scaling and Root Planing

If our team is treating a gummy smile that’s caused by inflamed or infected gums, the best place to start is with a deep professional dental cleaning. This cleaning is called scaling and root planing. This process 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 no major underlying issues are 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 larger and more proportionate to the gums. 

Gum Lift or Crown Lengthening

When too much gum tissue is covering the teeth, a gum lift, also called 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 worry, 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.


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

What Causes a Gummy Smile and Can It be Fixed?

Get the best at Bennett Orthodontics

No matter where you are in your orthodontic journey, you deserve the best care provided by the best team. Bennett Orthodontics is here to help you get and keep the smile you deserve, right in time for the summer season. Dr. Bennett will create a personalized treatment plan just for you and provide unmatched care for all your appointments. Since orthodontics is his primary specialty, Dr. Bennett and his expert team have the skills and experience necessary to give you the best treatment that is cost-efficient and successful.

If you still have questions about getting and taking care of an aligner, our eager and well-trained orthodontic team would love to chat with you for your FREE consultation to get you started on your treatment journey. There is no pressure or obligation to enter a treatment plan. We offer useful individualized information to help you decide what is right for you.