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How Crown lengthening and Veneers can Fix an Overly Gummy Smile

Of all the cosmetic issues patients have brought to our office, a “gummy” smile is mentioned occasionally. This is when a person feels uncomfortable with the amount of gums that show when they smile. Many factors can contribute to this disproportional smile, and half as many procedures to correct whatever isn’t working. Veneers are one of the most common due to its cost efficiency and versatility in the situation.

Factors that make for a Gummy Smile

As mentioned before, many things can attribute to what people perceive as a smile that is too gummy. As a general rule, any more than four millimeters of gingiva showing while a person smiles is what most dentists or patients perceive as too much.
Proportions of gum to teeth as well as the shape of teeth, movement and length of the upper lip, as well as the way the upper jaw sits in relation to the skull all factor into how much of the gums show when a person smiles.
When your mouth develops and permanent teeth erupt from the gums, the process of growing in teeth isn’t complete. The gingiva and bone tissue contract back and settle. When a variation of the crown (that is teeth above the gum line) width to length ratio considered “normal” happens, it gives the illusion of shorter teeth and excessive gum tissue. (Please note that in some cases, there actually is too much gum tissue and it will need to be surgically removed. Always consult a dentist about your oral situation.)

How Crown lengthening and Veneers can Fix an Overly Gummy Smile
Another thing that can make your smile seem overly gummy can be linked to excessive tooth wear. As the enamel of your teeth is damaged or worn down, it actually does become incrementally shorter. Your body responds to this wear down by moving the teeth slowly toward the opposing tooth to correct bite. As it does this, the gums move with the teeth, which makes it seem as though your gums are also growing or have suddenly gotten bigger.

How Veneers Can Help

Once a smile analysis has been done and the cause of the overly gumminess has been identified, your dentist can determine the best dental treatment plan for you. In both of the cases above, veneers paired with orthodontic devices or a gum lifts can help to restore a more proportioned smile. Orthodontic treatments can lengthen the crowns of your teeth. Gum lifts, sometimes called gum contouring, is where the gums are minimally reduced with a laser and better shaped around the teeth. (Source:
The process of getting veneers is pretty straight forward and shouldn’t be overly painful. A mold will be taken of your teeth and sent off to a laboratory. Your dentist should receive the veneers within two weeks.

Aesthetic ceramic veneers on the front teeth Crown
Aesthetic ceramic veneers on the front teeth.

Then you’ll have the veneers applied. About 1/2 a millimeter of enamel on each tooth affected will be removed to make room for the veneer. Occasionally, anesthetics will be needed for those with sensitive teeth or an opposition to filing in order to reduce sensation around the teeth. Then the tooth will be cleaned, polished, and roughened up for proper gluing. Your dentist will repeatedly hold the veneer up to the tooth and reshape it until it fits properly. Each tooth will go through this process until your dentist is satisfied with the results. Next the veneers will be bonded to your tooth structure(s) with special cement. A few more adjustments will be made and a special light beam will be used to active the chemicals in the cement so it hardens nearly instantly. Final touches will include removing any excess cement, adjusting the veneers a little more, and double checking your bite. (Source:

If you’re wondering how best to achieve the smile you want rather than the gummy smile you currently have, consult a dentist so you’re individual needs are addressed. A smile analysis is the best way to figure out a perfect treatment plan. If you need one in the Arlington, Texas please consider Dr. Marchbanks and his professional staff. We’d love to help!

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on Twitter or on Linkedin. If it's been more than 6 months since your last teeth cleaning, give us a call today to schedule your check-up.

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