What Are the Top Causes of a Gummy Smile?
What Are the Top Causes of a Gummy Smile?
February 16, 2022

Do you see more gums than teeth each time you look in the mirror and smile? If your gummy smile bothers you, you may have to see a periodontist in Solana. Besides fixing your problem, they can also explain what caused it in the first place.  

a woman shows off her perfect smile after seeing a Periodontist in Solana

What Is a Gummy Smile? 

Since a gummy smile is based on perception, you won’t find a set definition of this condition. However, studies show that most people think a smile is attractive when it only reveals two millimeters or less of gum tissue. Gum tissue exposure that exceeds three millimeters results in a gummy smile. 

Possible Causes of a Gummy Smile 

Genetics and Anatomy 

Genetics influences upper lip anatomy and the size of the teeth and jaws. A gummy look can result from a short upper lip, small teeth, and a prominent jaw. 

A hyperactive upper lip is a genetic condition that produces a gummy smile. Although a hyperactive upper lip may appear normal in length when the face is resting, it can lift too high and expose more gum tissue when smiling.  

Moreover, a rare condition called hereditary gingival fibromatosis (HGF) refers to the slow but progressive enlargement of keratinized gums that may cause speech problems. Hormonal imbalances associated with puberty and pregnancy can also contribute to a gummy smile. Likewise, blood disorders such as leukemia can also worsen gingival enlargement.  

Altered Passive Eruption  

Altered Passive Eruption (APE) occurs when permanent teeth fail to push through the gums and emerge in the mouth. Since these teeth don’t fully protrude into the mouth, the gums keep them partially covered, producing a gummy smile. Although APE isn’t considered a health risk, it can significantly impact the appearance of a smile. 

Gum Infection 

A gummy smile can also result from an infection in the gum tissue. The inflammation and swelling will cause the gums to cover too much of the teeth, making it appear as if there’s too much gum tissue. Dental professionals confirm that with proper oral hygiene habits and regular visits to the dentist for bi-annual professional cleanings, this cause of a gummy smile is preventable.   

Side Effects of Medication 

Although all prescription drugs have side effects, some medications may produce unintended consequences such as enlarged gums. These drugs include Phenytoin (used for treating epilepsy); Nifedipine, Diltiazem, and Verapamil (heart disease medications); and Cyclosporin (an immunosuppressant that helps transplant patients avoid tissue rejection.) 

How to Fix a Gummy Smile 

Treatment depends on the cause of the problem. However, some of the most common ways to fix a gummy smile include the following: 

Scaling and Root Planing 

Your dental care provider may recommend a deep professional dental cleaning to treat a gummy smile caused by inflamed or infected gums. This advanced cleaning involves scaling and root planing, where the periodontist eliminates bacteria by reaching deep into the gum pockets around the teeth. When the infection is gone, and the inflammation subsides, your smile will no longer appear gummy. 


Orthodontic treatment can address a gummy smile caused by a bad bite. Besides reducing the amount of gum tissue exposed when you’re smiling, talking, or laughing, braces or clear aligners can also adjust your bite to its correct position. 

Gum Surgery 

Gum surgery may be the best way to fix a gummy smile caused by gum disease, receding gums, or small teeth.  

a Periodontist in Solana examines a patient's mouth

Do You Need to See a Periodontist in Solana? 

At Inspire Smiles, we believe in providing high-quality dental care in a calm and relaxed atmosphere. We’re here to help you achieve optimal oral health according to your needs, desires, and values. Make an appointment with us today. 


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