Some patients smile and show an excessive amount of gum tissue. This is called a gummy smile and may be due to one more of the following problems:
- Gum irritation and overgrowth from braces. This is more likely to happen if the teeth appear short before the braces are placed on the teeth. This problem results not from the quality of the orthodontic care, but is a result of the pre-treatment gum and bone thickness.
- Altered passive eruption. The gum and bone normally recede as a part of the normal eruption of the teeth. When this normal recession doesn’t occur, and it may in some cases be genetic, the gums cover too much of the teeth and make them appear "too short". The teeth are usually not “too short”. They are usually normally sized but are buried under the gum and bone.
- If there are habits such as clenching or grinding (bruxism), excessive wear can produce teeth that now appear too short as they wear down. The problem is one that may be corrected with dental restorations such as crowns, onlays or veneers.
- Skeletal developmental problems.
Before treatment it is critical to properly evaluate the problem and get an accurate diagnosis. Some gummy smiles can be corrected with a tooth elongation surgery to remove excess gum and bone.