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Injectables: Nonsurgical Solutions For A Gummy Smile

A woman smiles while holding a coffee cup
A woman smiles while enjoying a beverage

If the phrase “you’re never fully dressed without a smile” rings true, then what exactly does a smile surrounded by an excess of pink gum say about your dress appropriateness? We’ll skip past the semantics of whether this means one is woefully under- or over-dressed and get right to the skinny, because chances are, a smile that exposes too much gummy-goodness isn’t something you’re smiling about anyway.

What is a gummy smile?

According to plastic and reconstructive cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Brent Moelleken, a gummy smile is caused by the relationship of the gums to the lip, and the underlying maxilla, also known as the facial bones.

“Normal visible gum tissue varies from person-to-person but 2mm or less is considered good,” explains Dr. Moelleken, “though there are some tooth models that look great with more than 2mm of gum show.” Just another example of how beauty and cosmetic procedures are never a one size fits all phenomena.

Factors leading to an overly-gummy smile can include a hyperactive upper lip muscle, excessive gum tissue, a short upper lip and or small teeth. And while an excess of gum surrounding your smile isn’t the end of the world, it does lead to some people feeling self-conscious about their smile—and we’re not here for that.

There are several options with which to treat a gummy smile, ranging from in-office injectables to surgery. Depending on the cause of extra gumminess, your plastic surgeon can advise what might be the best and least invasive procedures for your particular circumstance. So let’s take a look at some of the most popular nonsurgical and surgical options for treatment.

Injectable treatments for a gummy smile.

The words ‘minimally invasive’ and ‘nonsurgical’ often make those seeking cosmetic procedures sing, and we all know why. For one, the procedures come with considerably less risk and downtime (in some instances none at all) and can be easily adjusted to suit the patients individual needs and desired results. A few nonsurgical treatments for a gummy smile include:

  • Botox: Doctors are increasingly using injections of botulinum toxin like Botox, Dysport and Xeomin to reduce a gummy smile. By injecting the muscle right above the smile in the upper lip area, the muscle is relaxed enough to eradicate the excessive lift while still maintaining your ability to say cheese. While this fix is temporary–about 3-6 months—it’s a simple, quick and effective procedure with little to no downtime or aftercare required. In other words, a godsend for patients who are self-conscious about a gummy smile caused by a hyperactive upper lip muscle. Seeking Botox from a less than experienced injector can result in a temporarily crooked smile, slurred speech and an inability to drink out of a straw—be warned. And also seek a qualified and board-certified injector. #problemsolved
  • Lip Enhancement or Augmentation: Another nonsurgical approach to a gummy smile is lip enhancement (aka. lip augmentation). Your surgeon can increase the volume of the upper lip through an injectable like dermal filler In turn a fuller upper lip will help cover more gum when smiling. Like botulinum toxin, dermal fillers are temporary with results that can last anywhere from 6 to 12 months. There’s little recovery time out side of some swelling and bruising. It’s important to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon in any case, as some filler types are not recommended due to producing lumpy results. Your doctor is the only person who is assess and perform any injectable procedure to address an gummy smile.

While nonsurgical injectable procedures can be helpful to many patients who might be self-conscious about a gummy smile, there are instances where more invasive—and generally longer lasting—surgical techniques need to be employed. A sit-down with your board certified plastic surgeon is the best resource for solving any issues involving an overly gummy smile. And that, my friends, should give you something to really smile about!


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