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Do You Have a Gummy Smile?

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Unlike Gummy Bears, a gummy smile is not usually considered a cute thing. If a wide expanse of your upper gums shows when you smile, you may know what I mean.

Granted, a gummy smile is not the worst aesthetic problem someone can have, not by a long shot. But some people are very self-conscious about extreme gum exposure when they smile. This can cause them to hide their mouth or even stop smiling to the point where it colors what others think of them.

If you’re just the person I’m talking about, meaning your gummy smile really bothers you but you feel silly even thinking about “fixing” it, there may be good news for you. Cosmetic dentists and plastic surgeons in growing numbers are able to help many people like you with a relatively simple procedure.

A study presented at the recent annual conference of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reviews the operation. In a brief outpatient procedure under local anesthesia, the plastic surgeon makes a few small incisions in the muscle that lifts the upper lip while lengthening the piece of skin inside the mouth that connects the lip to the gums.

All ten patients presented in the ASPS study showed smile improvement, with an average reduction in gum exposure of more than 3mm. Incisions are hidden in the nostrils and mouth, so no visible scarring occurs.

In the past, the approach to correcting a gummy smile has often involved procedures like gingivectomies. That means removing gum tissue surgically or with a laser—a procedure that sometimes involves a lengthy, uncomfortable healing process. For those who are good candidates, the newer smile reduction or lip lowering procedure is much less invasive.

If the combination of your lips, gums and teeth add up to a smile you don’t think is pleasing, the cause may be orthodontic work, medications or simple genetics. And the approach to changing your smile may be simple or may require a bit more work. The point is, the options are increasing.

If you’ll allow me one suggestion, seek the advice of friends and family you trust before you make any decisions. I recently read the posts of one young woman with a gummy smile.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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