Correcting a “gummy smile”

Dr. Weingarden:

When an orthodontist completes their work, and you have beautiful, straight teeth, that’s like the picture of a piece of art. But the frame will really make that piece of art stand out. And the frame is having properly shaped teeth and not too much gum.

Laura is an 18-year-old patient who had orthodontic treatment completed a couple of years ago. Her teeth are very straight – the orthodontist did an absolutely beautiful job for her. Despite that, she was still not happy with her smile. This is a common problem; it affects about 10% of our population.

She came in because she felt she showed too much gum when she smiled. She felt that her teeth were very square and made her look too young. And we dentists basically agree with that; she has the shaped teeth of a 6- or 7-year-old and her teeth are square, which they shouldn’t be.

There’s a plastic surgical correction for that which works absolutely beautifully and the patients love the outcome. Once Laura had the procedure, she no longer had that small, square tooth that a youngster has. She now has the shape of a tooth that an adult has, which is very pleasing.

Our teeth are very, very aesthetic parts of ourselves and it’s nice to meet the public and have teeth that are presentable, and hers certainly are. Another change for Laura is that her gumline is pretty much equal to her upper lip, especially the middle two teeth, which is exactly where the gum line is supposed to be for the most pleasing smile. This is the proportional tooth smile for the most pleasing smile.

100% of the patients I’ve done this for tell me they are just so happy with the outcome and it’s real common that people start to cry, because they just love it and they cry with happiness. That’s very, very common at the completion. And I see this: I finish the treatment, the patient is still numb and I give them the mirror to hold and I ask, “What do you think?” and the tears flow and I love it!