A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear. Judging by the 1.4 billion spent yearly on over the counter teeth whiteners, Americans believe this adage. Perfect smiles and pearly white teeth are important to our society. Just look at any Hollywood celebrity, as their star rises so does their dental bill. On that road to fame and fortune, an upgraded smile is an important step in the transition to stardom.

Along with wanting whiter, straighter teeth, another common complaint people have about their mouth is that their top gums show too much when they smile. In the cosmetic surgery industry, this is referred to as a “gummy smile.” There is a variety of reasons for a gummy smile. A person’s teeth might be small compared to the width and length of their smile, therefore showing more gums. One might have a small upper lip that doesn’t cover enough of the upper gum area when they smile. Some people just have excessive gum tissue. When flashing a smile the optimal aesthetic is an even upper lip with minimal gum tissue showing.  Two millimeters or less of gum tissue showing seems to be the perfect 10 when it comes to smiles.

I have a gummy smile, what are my treatment options?

In the past, there was one remedy for a gummy smile- smile with your mouth closed and hope no one notices. More recently there has been painful and expensive options to remedy this problem. One painful solution is a gingivectomy or gum removal surgery. In this surgery, a dentist removes a portion of the gums, leaving more of your teeth showing. The surgery is painful, requires multiple appointments and is expensive.

Another solution is veneers. Veneers are thin porcelain shells placed on top of the teeth. A cosmetic dentist glues the veneers on top of real teeth, elongating the size of the teeth. Though relatively painless, veneers can be very costly at roughly $2,000 per tooth. Most likely neither of these procedures are covered by insurance since they are cosmetic in nature. Gummy smile candidates might have good results with either or in some cases both but will also be out thousands of dollars.

Botox to Treat a Gummy Smile

Today there is a relatively new, and cost-efficient procedure that in-the-know 
 “gummy smile” candidates are flocking to. This simple treatment is done in the comfort of a plastic surgeon’s office only using Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA). You’ve probably heard of plastic surgeons administering Botox to erase 11 lines between the brows or crows feet, but did you know that Botox is also now being used to treat a gummy smile?  This simple and affordable procedure can be done quickly and without anesthesia. Injecting Botox to treat a gummy smile in the right area of the upper mouth can lower the top lip to a position where less gum tissue shows. Botox for a gummy smile works by paralyzing specific smile muscles, therefore “relaxing” the muscles that create the “high lift” in a smile. The procedure lowers the top part of the smile to cover the gums more. You can see why it is gaining attention for its ease and accessibility to treat this condition. Botox injections to treat a gummy smile are not a permanent solution. But at a fraction of the costs of other remedies, it is easy to stay within a budget and receive the Botox treatment two to three times a year as needed.  It’s not for everyone, and effective treatment will depend on the reason you have a gummy smile. As always, you want to go to a plastic surgeon experienced in injecting Botox to make sure the correct targets are hit and your smile is even on both sides.

Do you have a gummy smile? Call and schedule a consultation with Dr. Bradley Hubbard to see if this treatment is right for you.