When you look at yourself in your photos, do you notice that your gums are very prominent?
This is what's known as gummy smile which is also known as "excessive gingival display".
Worldwide and in Singapore, what's considered attractive is a smile that shows minimal gums. Ideally, your lips would cover most of your gums. This allows your teeth to take prominence in your smile.
What is the perfect gum height in a smile?
A 2006 study by Vincent O. Kokich found that "laypeople rated a 3-mm distance from gingiva to lip as unattractive."
This means that if you smile and you show 3mm or more of your gums, the general public will perceive it as unattractive.
The study showed participants seven images of women's smiles which were Photoshopped with a variety of permutations and asked them to rate how attractive these looks were.
Why do I have a gummy smile?
Singaporeans can have a gummy smile because of genetic factors as well as habits. Here are the main factors.
Short teeth due to genetic factors or grinding
When your adult teeth emerge from your gums, it will emerge to a certain distance with the rest remaining under the gums.
If your teeth do not go far enough, you will have "under-erupted" teeth which make teeth appear short in comparison to the visible gums.
However, if you find that your smile has become more "gummy" over the years, it might be due to long-term teeth grinding at night.
Singaporeans live in a high-stress society and this can sometimes cause some people to have nocturnal bruxism.
As you grind your teeth at night over a long period of time, your teeth's height gets shorter. The wear happens over a long period of time and you will find it very hard to perceive unless you do a comparison over many years.
This leads to a worsening of your gummy smile over time, but the good news is that it can be managed by your dentist.
Gummy smiles related to the jaw
The jaw doesn't like to leave gaps between your top teeth and bottom teeth.
Therefore, every time your teeth gets eroded, your jaw bone and gum will shift downwards in order to fill the gap.
Particular to Singaporeans, our high-acidity diet can further erode our teeth. Drinking or eating foods and drinks with a high sugar content such as bubble tea, ice kacang and pineapple tarts are some examples.
Another factor is also due to teeth grinding. As you grind your teeth, you will create small gaps which will cause your jaw to shift.
Finally, you could very well have excessive upper jaw growth that causes the upper jaw to show more gum.
Hypermobile or short upper lip
The upper lip plays an important role in preventing a gummy-smile look.
In essence, they mask your gums. So if you have thick lips that don't move much upon smiling , most of your gums will be hidden from view.
On the other hand, having a short upper lip can cause an excessive display of gums when you smile.
Besides the thickness of your upper lip, the other factor is how much they move between your non-smiling face and when you smile.
People who have hypermobile lips will have smiles that reveal too much gums as their lips shift too much when they smile.
I want to fix my gummy smile. How involved is it?
As you have read in the section above, a gummy smile can be the result of various factors.
As a result, the treatment for a gummy smile that comes from excessive upper jaw development would be different from a treatment from nocturnal teeth grinding.
Depending on the reason why you have a gummy smile, our dentists can suggest the most effective way to treat it.
Our dentists will generally use these methods:
Laser gum contouring
Botulinum toxin (Botox)
Laser gum contouring
Want to talk about laser gum contouring? We love talking about it!
Dr. Kelvin Chua lecturing about combining modern tools to manage gummy smiles at the Medical Alumni Association Dental Conference in 2018.
Laser gum contouring uses a laser to shape the gums and move your gum line back. It's minimally invasive and the dentist can reshape the gum line to achieve your desired results.
At Gentle Smile Dental Studio, we have many years of knowledge and practice when using laser gum contouring to build a beautiful smile.
Using a digital tool called the Digital Smile Design, we help our patients have the confidence and an idea of how they will look after the laser gum contouring procedure.
Our dentist, Dr. Kelvin Chua, has given talks about laser gum contouring in various symposiums including the World Clinical Laser Institute Asia Pacific Symposium and the Asia Pacific Dental Congress.
At these conferences, dental professionals listen to Dr. Chua as he talks about how he uses digital tools and multidisciplinary approaches to achieve the results that his patients want and to create a more predictable and quicker treatment outcome.
Lip repositioning and Botox
If the reason why you have a gummy smile involves your upper lip, then our dentists could suggest going through lip repositioning and/or Botox.
Botox is one of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce a hypermobile upper lip.
Injecting Botox will limit the range of movement of your upper lip, thereby ensuring that your smile does not show too much gum.
Usage of Botox in Singapore is regulated. Every clinic that wants to use Botox must have training and be certified by the MOH.
At Gentle Smile Dental Studio, we only use Botox to treat dental-related conditions such as square jaw and gummy smile.
In addition, our dentist, Dr. Kelvin Chua, has lectured on the usage of botulinum toxin locally and regionally since 2018.
Botox's effect on your upper lip can be seen within a few days to two weeks and it will last for 3-6 months.
If you are looking for a more permanent solution, then lip repositioning surgery could be your solution. Lip repositioning surgery moves your upper lip downwards to hide more of your gums.
Lip repositioning surgery is a minor surgical procedure that will provide you with a long term solution to your gummy smile.
Orthognathic (jaw) surgery for gummy smile
Orthognathic surgery is generally not the first line of treatment for gummy smile but it can provide major and long term benefits for people willing to go through with it.
If you have a major case of gummy smile, then our dentists could suggest this as an option.
A few considerations that dentists will have include how many millimeters of gum is exposed, how your lips are positioned at rest and whether alternative treatments are available.
Gummy smile jaw surgery centres around shifting the upper jaw upwards so that it reduce the exposure of your gums.
In addition, this can create a proportional look between the top teeth and bottom teeth.
Furthermore, having a properly positioned jaw will give you a better bite and reduce wear on your teeth over a long period of time.
Get a preview of your smile after our gummy smile treatment
Your gummy smile can be resolved and you can look better in the mirror and in photos at our Millenia Walk (Singapore) dental clinic.
At Gentle Smile Dental Studio, we have many years of experience using various methods to help improve your public image.
One method which our patients love is the ability to preview the final results using a digital tool called Digital Smile Design which allows you to preview your smile after treatment of your gummy smile.