Botox: The Simple Solution for a Gummy Smile

Botox: The Simple Solution for a Gummy Smile
Botox: The Simple Solution for a Gummy Smile

An ear-to-ear grin can light up a room, but when it exposes too much pink gum when you're doing it -- even if you have white, straight, healthy-looking teeth -- chances are you're not smiling about it. A gummy smile is caused by the relationship of the gums to the lip, and the underlying maxilla, also known as the facial bones according to Dr. Brent Moelleken, a Plastic and Reconstructive Cosmetic Surgeon with offices in Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara. "Normal visible gum tissue varies from person-to-person but 2mm or less is considered good, though there are some tooth models that look great with more than 2mm of gum show."

Many issues may cause a gummy smile. These include but are not limited to:

  • a hyperactive upper lip muscle
  • excessive gum tissue
  • a short upper lip
  • small teeth

If you have excessive gumminess and your smile is less than it should be, there's no reason you need to grin and bear it. There are loads of options available to correct this condition, but the first step is a visit to a plastic surgeon who can determine the cause of your gummy smile and advise you of the best and least invasive procedure for your particular circumstance. Depending on the cause of your gummy smile, here are 5 possible options to fix it.

1. Off-label use of Botox is being used to reduce a gummy smile by temporarily decreasing the overactive lip lifting muscle. The Botox is simply injected directly above the smile in the upper lip area so that it can relax the muscles that cause the upper lip to excessively lift.

2. A VY Lip Augmentation is a surgical procedure that takes some of the internal mouth tissue and makes it part of the upper lip by adding fullness to it, thereby decreasing the look of a gummy smile.

3. Maxilla surgery can be performed when the facial bone above the teeth is too long and needs to be inset, but be aware this is a very big surgery.

4. Lip augmentation can be done with an injectable dermal filler or LiveFill (strips of the patient's own tissue taken from the abdomen) to increase the volume of the upper lip.

5. A crown lengthening procedure is a surgical procedure where the surgeon removes gum tissue, bone, or both gum tissue and bone to reveal more of the tooth and decrease the gum area.

If your gummy smile isn't caused by bad bones or thin lips, the simplest procedure to treat excessive gumminess is with Botox injections. Though the results are temporary, (lasting about 3 to 4 months) the big upside of this treatment is that it's non-invasive and relatively inexpensive compared to the other available options. Depending upon how much Botox is needed, the procedure costs around $300 each time you get it done. It's crucial that you're in the hands of an experienced injector; if you have too little Botox administered you might not see any results and if you have too much Botox injected it could temporarily affect your speech and your ability to drink from a straw or even give you a crooked smile.

A "gummy smile" can cause someone to feel self-conscious and dissatisfied with their appearance. Fortunately, there’s no need to suffer in silence or perfect your closemouthed smile. Schedule a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon with an interest and experience in lip procedures. This type of cosmetic surgeon understands this particular anatomy best and will be able to diagnose the problem correctly and discuss all available options with you. Now that's something to smile about!

About the Author

Nancy Weinberg Simon is a beauty and lifestyle writer with over 20 years of experience. She's the founder and editor of the beauty and lifestyle blog, The Beauty Wall, the features editor at Beauty in the Bag, and was the beauty editor at Family Circle magazine from 1997-2007. She's also been a valuable contributor to Ladies' Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, More magazine and numerous other magazines and online beauty sites. Prior to finding her niche and writing about everything beauty related, Nancy dabbled in casting, production, talent management, advertising and the modeling industry. She loves reading everything and anything she can get her hands on, entertaining family and friends, trolling home decor sites and attending estate sales, open houses and outdoor markets. Nancy lives with her husband, two children and two very large cats, just outside of NYC.