What Causes a Gummy Smile & How To Fix It

At Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics, we know how frustrating it can be to feel insecure about your smile, especially when smiling is the main way you show your happiness! Our job is to listen to your concerns and help you achieve your smile goals, so if you’re feeling self-conscious about a gummy smile, we’re here to show you the path to confidence. Keep reading to learn what causes a gummy smile and how to fix it. 

All About A “Gummy Smile”

So much of our human perception of attractiveness is based on facial proportions, and gummy smiles are no different. Although attraction is relative, you may feel less confident if a disproportionate amount of your gums are showing compared to your teeth when you smile. Dr. Cowan and Dr. Whitaker call this excessive gingival display (EGD), and we’re here to tell you all about it. 

What is EGD?

Studies have shown that an ideal smile shows off two millimeters or less of your gum line. If you have EGD, your smile may reveal closer to three or four millimeters of your gums, and this may cause you to feel self-conscious about your appearance. 

However, if you just found yourself looking in the mirror with a ruler to find out just how much of your gums are showing, remember that the real answer lies in how you feel about your smile. Gummy grins are usually cosmetic issues, so seeking treatment comes down to how you feel about your smile, not the measurement of your gums. 

What Causes EGD?

If you’re worried about a gummy smile, you aren’t alone. Approximately 14% of women and 7% of men have EGD, and various factors can cause this cosmetic issue. You may have a shorter or more hyperactive upper lip that causes more of your gums to become visible when you smile. Less common reasons for EGD include gingival overgrowth, an altered passive eruption of the teeth, or short clinical crowns – all of which are fancy terms for how your facial bones grow in proportion to the rest of your face and mouth. 

What Causes a Gummy Smile & How To Fix It

How To Fix A Gummy Smile

Fixing a gummy smile can make you feel like a million bucks, and lucky for you there are several different ways your team at Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics can address this issue so you can regain confidence in your grin. 

Laser Gum Contouring

Like a gingivectomy, laser gum contouring works to remove a section of your gum line so that the surface area of your teeth appears bigger by contrast. Using a laser, this minimally invasive procedure reshapes the gum line so that you can feel more confident in your smile. 

Botox or Lip Repositioning Surgery

Sometimes EGD is caused by a hyperactive upper lip that shifts higher than average when you smile. This minimally invasive procedure allows your doctor to move your lip downward on your face so that less of your gums show when you smile. Botox can also work to reduce the range that your upper lip can move, so your hyperactive upper lip covers more of your gum line when you smile. Botox isn’t a permanent solution, however, and could require repeated treatments to continue giving you the results you’re looking for. 

Veneers or Crowns

For patients who don’t have major orthodontic issues like a bad bite or jaw misalignment but still feel unhappy with their gumline, veneers or crowns might be a good option. By fitting caps over each of your teeth, your doctor can give you the illusion of longer teeth with a smaller gum line. 


A gingivectomy, or crown-lengthening procedure, is a minimally-invasive surgical method that reduces your gum line by removing some of the gum tissue from the tops of your teeth. This treatment reveals more of the bone so that your teeth look longer and your gums appear smaller in proportion. 

Orthodontic Treatment

Sometimes gummy smiles are a result of a bad bite or jaw misalignment. When treating these underlying dental problems, you can reduce the gums that show when you say cheese! At Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics, we offer three orthodontic solutions for patients of all ages. 

Invisalign: This treatment option uses a series of clear plastic trays that gradually shift your smile in line over time. Rather than using the bulky brackets and wires of traditional braces, Invisalign straightens your teeth almost invisibly, so you can enjoy the perks of a beautiful grin even while undergoing treatment. Invisalign is an excellent option for patients with mild to moderate orthodontic issues, and treatment can take as little as six months to complete. 

Metal Braces: Metal braces are our most popular treatment method, and they’re probably the first method that comes to mind when you think about orthodontics. Metal braces are a heavy-duty method for fixing moderate to severe orthodontic issues. Traditional braces straighten your smile over 12-36 months using a system of brackets and wires. 

Clear Braces: Like metal braces, clear braces use brackets and wires to align your smile. However, unlike traditional braces, clear braces use white ceramic brackets that blend in with the natural color of your teeth for a less noticeable treatment. Clear braces are an excellent option for patients who want a more discreet treatment plan with the same strength as metal braces. 

What Causes a Gummy Smile & How To Fix It

Your Smile, Our Passion

At Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics, we believe that personalized care makes all the difference. Dr. Cowan and Dr. Whitaker customize each orthodontic treatment plan so that it works for your unique smile. Our patients in Tuscaloosa know us as the Alabama orthodontic experts, and we can’t wait to make you smile, too! Schedule your free consultation today to get started!

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