Two Ways To Deal With A Gummy Smile

One thing that contributes to an attractive smile is how proportionate the teeth are in relation to the gum tissue. Teeth that are too small can make a person's smile aesthetically displeasing, and the individual may look older than he or she really is. If your teeth seem disproportionately smaller than your gums (resulting in a gummy smile), here are a couple of reasons why this may be and what can be done to fix the problem.

Cause of gummy smiles

One common reason for small teeth is bruxism, a condition characterized by teeth grinding. Over time, the constant friction from the teeth scraping together wears them down, so they end up smaller than they should be. Bruxism can be caused by stress, abnormal bite, and/or missing teeth and often occurs while a person is sleeping.

Another reason why a person's teeth may appear too small is due to excessive gum tissue. Some people simply have too much gum tissue naturally or due to the use of certain medicines. This causes the gums to partially cover the teeth and give them a shortened appearance. In other cases, excess gum tissue is the result of the failure of gums to recede like they should during or after the tooth eruption phase, resulting in a gummy smile.

Understanding what may cause a short tooth problem is important for determining the best option for fixing the issue. Here are two possible solutions.


Gingivoplasty is a relatively minor oral surgery that involves removing excess gum tissue and reshaping what's left to expose more of the tooth. This procedure is commonly performed to treat gum disease, as gum tissue can form pockets or gaps between or around the teeth. Bacteria can hide in these pockets, making it difficult to get rid of them during normal brushing and flossing. However, cosmetic dentists also perform this surgery to give teeth the appearance of being longer.

This solution is best for people who, for one reason or another, simply have too much gum tissue. It may not be appropriate for people whose teeth are shorter due to bruxism or similar trauma. This is because the gum tissue may already be a normal healthy length, and removing some of it could expose the tooth root—resulting in problems such as sensitive teeth.

As noted previously, the surgery is relatively minor and is usually completed in one appointment. However, it can take 2 to 3 months for the gums to fully heal afterwards. Like any surgery, there is a risk of infection, so you'll likely need to use a medicated mouthwash to kill germs for awhile after the surgery.

The cost of the procedure is anywhere from $190 to $300 per tooth or up to $4,000 for the whole mouth. Dental insurance may pay for part of or the entire procedure if it's being done for a medical reason. However, you may have to pay out of pocket if you're having gingivoplasty for purely cosmetic reasons.


Another solution for fixing short teeth is to have them capped with veneers. These are thin shells made from porcelain or composite material that are bonded directly to the teeth and molded in a shape and length that best suits your face and mouth. This type of procedure it a good option for people who lost tooth height due to bruxism or regular wear and tear.

In addition to making teeth look longer, veneers can make teeth appear whiter and also provides protection against further deterioration. If properly cared for, veneers can last up to 20 years. However, it's critical that the underlying cause of shortened teeth be addressed. For instance, if you suffer from teeth grinding, then you'll want to work with your dentist to fix the problem; otherwise, you may end up breaking the veneers, or they may need to be replaced a lot sooner than expected due to the mechanical damage.

Veneers can cost up to $1,100 per tooth. Because it is a purely cosmetic procedure, most dental insurance plans won't cover the cost.

There may be other options for fixing a gummy smile. Contact a cosmetic dentistry clinic for more information about these and other solutions.