When some people smile, they may show an excessive amount of gum tissue. This is called a gummy smile and may be due to a few different 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. If you don’t brush well and take good care of your teeth during treatment (paying extra attention to your gums), you will definitely see irritation and puffy gums which make your teeth appear shorter.
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, the gums cover too much of the teeth and make them appear “too short.” The teeth are usually not “too short.” They are usually of normal size but are buried under the gum and bone.
If there are habits such as thumb sucking or grinding (bruxism), excessive pressures or tooth wear can alter the appearance of the teeth. The problems may be able to be corrected with orthodontics, surgical procedures or with dental restorations such as crowns or veneers.
Skeletal developmental problems affect the growth of the jaws and the teeth. If orthodontics is instituted at seven to nine years of age, the growth of the jaws can often be controlled and the cosmetics can be improved.
Before treatment it is critical to properly evaluate the problems and get an accurate diagnosis. Some cosmetic issues can be easily corrected while others like skeletal problems can be more difficult.
Before treatment: Gummy smile with excess gum tissue
After treatment: Removal of excess gum tissue