What is the Gingival Smile Line?

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When it comes to smile makeovers, many people assume that it is necessary to improve the look of their teeth. While this is certainly true, there are cases where improving the appearance of your gums can yield results that are just as dramatic. In some cases, a combination of teeth and gum improvements can provide you with your ideal smile. In fact, many types of cosmetic dental treatments performed on the teeth are also accompanied by cosmetic gum procedures to help make visual improvements while also maintaining a natural appearance. 

types of smile lines

In order to design your perfect smile, your dentist will first need to determine the type of smile line you have. A smile line refers to the visual relationship between your upper gums, lips, and teeth. There are two main types of smile lines: low smile lines and gingival smile lines. When people with a low smile lines smile, their upper lip conceals the upper gums and only their teeth are visible. However when people with gingival smile lines smile, the upper gum tissue is visible to some extent in addition to the teeth. 

In some cases, your smile lines are simply the result of uncontrollable factors, such as: 

  • The size and shape of your lips
  • The amount of gum tissue
  • The size and shape of your teeth
  • How your facial muscles relax and contract

Individuals with smaller lips, excess gum tissue, and small teeth are more likely to have a gingival smile line, while those with larger lips, adequate gum tissue, and average-sized teeth are more likely to have a low smile line. In particular, individuals with gummy smiles will have a gingival smile line. Gummy smiles occur when there is excess gum tissue as a result of an abnormal tooth eruption, improper development of the upper jaw, and/or a hyperactive lip muscle. Gummy smiles are also known as high smile lines, short upper lip, and full denture smiles. 

gingivectomy before and after

Treating a gingival smile line will depend upon the main cause and how it affects your oral health. For example, a gingival smile line caused by improper upper jaw development may require orthodontic treatment to better align the upper jaw and prevent future issues. Additionally, your dentist may recommend treating a gummy smile if the excess gum tissue is negatively affecting your oral health by causing tooth decay or gum disease. Even when gummy smiles are not causing significant problems, many people still elect periodontal cosmetic treatments to improve the look of their smile. 

A gingival smile line or gummy smile can be corrected using a variety of cosmetic procedures. One commonly performed procedure is known as a gingivectomy. During a gingivectomy, excess gum tissue is removed and the remaining tissue is reshaped using a dental laser. Gingivectomies improve the ratio between the teeth and gums and the overall contour of the gums. Gingival smile lines can also be treated by using Botox to relax an overactive upper lip muscle, fillers to increase the volume of the upper lips, or veneers to correct the size and shape of the teeth. To determine which treatment option is best for your gummy smile, you will need to speak with your dentist. 

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