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Too much gum tissue can make your teeth look shorter than they are, causing your smile to look unbalanced. Many patients do not know there are treatments available for their gummy smiles, including gum contouring and BOTOX® Cosmetic.

Effects of a Gummy Smile

  • Teeth that Look Short—if you have noticed your teeth look small or short, the problem may not be your teeth, but rather gums that sit too low.
  • Too Much of Your Gums Show when Smiling—for some people, smiling reveals a large portion of their gums, drawing attention away from otherwise healthy, beautiful teeth.
Person smiling

What Causes a Smile to Look Gummy?

A range of factors can result in a gummy smile:

  • Too Much Gum Tissue—some of us simply have more gum tissue than others. In some cases, teeth appear short because they did not fully erupt from the gums and are still partially covered by gum tissue. Gums can also grow over teeth due to a condition called gingival hypertrophy.
  • Worn or Short Teeth—your teeth may appear small in comparison with your gums if they have been worn down or are naturally shorter than average.
  • A Short or Hyperactive Upper Lip—if your upper lip is too short, it can reveal more of your gums when you smile. In other cases, the upper lip is a normal length, but lifts too high when smiling.
  • Jaw Problems—an overgrowth in the upper jaw, known as vertical maxillary excess, can make your gums bulge and upset the proportions of your smile.

Are Certain People More Likely to have Gummy Smiles?

Your genes have a lot to do with the look of your smile. Many of the conditions that lead to a gummy smile are hereditary. If a close family member has a gummy smile, there is a much higher chance that you will as well. Gummy smiles also tend to be more prevalent in women than in men.

John F. Rink DDS, AAACD

Are Gummy Smiles Common?

A Gummy Smile Is More Common among young people. According to a study by Jerbi Mohamed Ali and Dallel Ines, about 10% of 20-30-year-olds have gummy smiles. Excessive gum tissue tends to decrease with age.

What Should I do if I Think My Smile is Gummy?

If you are concerned about how much gum tissue shows when you smile, your dentist can perform an examination and explain your treatment options. During the appointment, he or she will assess your teeth, gums, and jaw to figure out the cause. You may also need impressions and x-rays. 

Can I Prevent my Smile from Looking Gummy?

Most of the causes of a gummy Smile are hereditary. Unfortunately, when a gummy smile is caused by genetics, there are no reliable methods of prevention. However, by visiting a dentist on a regular basis, you can address teeth grinding and other issues that can eventually contribute to a gummy smile.

Anything over three to four millimeters of gum showing starts to look ‘gummy.’

Dr. Stan Heifetz on the ideal smile

What is the Best Treatment Option for you?

Laser Gum Contouring

Your doctor can use a soft-tissue laser to remove gum tissue, improving the proportions between your teeth and gums.

Lip Repositioning Surgery

When combined with orthodontic treatment, lip repositioning can be a good alternative to jaw surgery.


If your gummy smile is due to mild issues with your jaws or bite, an orthodontic treatment can shift the position of your teeth to reduce the amount of gum tissue that shows when you smile.

Porcelain Veneers or Crowns

Placing a restoration, such as a veneer or crown, can make worn or short teeth appear longer and balance the proportions of your smile.

Corrective Jaw Surgery

For cases of moderate to severe jaw protrusion, you may need orthognathic surgery combined with orthodontics.

BOTOX® Cosmetic

Doctors can now use BOTOX Cosmetic to limit the movement of your upper lip when you smile. While temporary, it can provide beautiful results at an affordable price.

If you dislike the gummy look of your smile, a range of treatments exist to give you a more balanced, symmetrical appearance. Reach out to a doctor today to learn more about your options.

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