An ideal smile is wide, showing a full set of teeth, a wide palate, and showing as little of the gums as possible.
If your bottom teeth do not show when you smile, then you likely have a gummy smile. Gummy smiles have excessive gum tissue growth, covering most of your teeth. You can get a gummy smile from facial recession and certain medications. You can reveal more of your bottom teeth by getting procedures like gum recontouring.
Typically, most people’s bottom teeth do not show when they smile because they have overly gummy smiles. Your teeth may not actually be short – there is too much gum covering your teeth.
Gummy smiles are somewhat common. Around 10% of 20-30-year olds, usually women, think they have gummy smiles (Jerbi et al., 2020). However, it still can be troublesome for people because gummy smiles can ruin their self-confidence.
What Causes a Gummy Smile?
There are many reasons why you have a gummy smile that covers your bottom teeth. Two common reasons you could have a gummy smile are:
A lot of people who have gummy smiles often have facial recession. Facial recession can include a receding chin, which means you have poor mandible growth.
Facial recession can significantly impact how your teeth and jaw develop, leading to a gummy smile. For instance, you can have excess gum growth if your lower jaw recedes or juts out.
Facial recession is often a result of mouth breathing. Mouth breathing hinders the face and jaw’s development, affecting your gum and teeth growth. If a child is a mouth breather, it can completely change how they look as they age and continue to breathe that way.
When a mouth breather breathes, their jaws are too relaxed, and they have poor tongue and mouth posture. The poor posture leads to a weak jawline and recessed chin.
An underdeveloped jawline and chin can mess up your teeth and gums. There would not be enough room for all your teeth, and you would have overcrowding. The mandible also likely points down and inward, leading to excessive gum growth.
Certain medications can cause gum overgrowth, which is called gingival hyperplasia. Typically, that includes drugs that treat high blood pressure, suppress your immune system, and prevent seizures.
Of course, you should not stop taking your medications to get rid of your gummy smile. Instead, it would be best if you focused on treating gingival hyperplasia.
If you want to treat it, you can consult a periodontist. Usually, a periodontist performs a procedure to remove the inflamed or diseased gum tissue. In some cases, they may also use stitches to repair your remaining gums.
The exact procedure will depend on your case. Some standard procedures include laser excision, electrosurgery, gingivectomy, etc.
How Can I Fix a Gummy Smile to Show My Bottom Teeth?
A simple way to reveal more of your bottom teeth is to get gum recontouring. In many cases, you may not have short bottom teeth. There is just too much gum tissue covering your bottom teeth. Gum recontouring, or a gingivectomy, involves removing excess gum tissue.
To perform the procedure, you will get a local anesthetic to avoid feeling pain during the procedure. A surgeon will use a laser or scalpel to reshape and trim the gums to reveal your teeth.
Typically, surgeons prefer to use lasers over scalpels. Lasers let the surgeon create more precise cuts, and there will be less bleeding and pain.
Recovery depends on whether your surgeon used a laser or scalpel. If they used a scalpel, you might have sore gums for a week. They are also likely to bleed.
If the surgeon used a laser, your recovery would be quicker. You will not get any open sores, and your surgeon will not have to use sutures.
Crown Lengthening Surgery
In more serious cases, a periodontist may suggest crown lengthening surgery to fix a gummy smile.
Gum recontouring simply removes extra gum tissue to reveal more teeth. Crown lengthening surgery removes extra gum tissue and occasionally bone around the teeth to lengthen your visible enamel. Therefore, crown lengthening surgery could help you reveal more of your teeth if your bottom teeth do not show.
Sometimes, when some people get crown lengthening surgery, it is to adjust the bone level to extend the visible tooth’s size or height above the gumline. It is not always done, however. It is needed if you need more teeth restoration work done.
That way, there will be enough tooth structure to hold the new restoration in place. For instance, crown lengthening is common if you need to get veneers, crowns, etc. because it can help anchor the new restorations.
Crown lengthening surgery can also be done to repair severe tooth decay below the gum line. It may also be needed if your tooth broke off or has a fracture below the gum line.
Mewing can encourage upward and forward facial growth, which can significantly enhance your facial aesthetics and potentially reduce your gummy smile. While it may not completely fix your gummy smile, it can prevent it from growing more.
You put pressure on your palate when you mew. When you do this, you encourage your midface to move up and forward, enhancing your cheekbones and eyes. Mewing also encourages your lower jaw to move up and forward, decreasing your facial recession.
Additionally, mewing is excellent for mouth breathers. Not only does it help enhance your jawline and midface, but it also encourages you to breathe through your nose.
When you breathe through your nose, it can help you deal with snoring and sleep apnea. Additionally, it also lets more oxygen reach active tissues.
When you mew, you correct your tongue, jaw, and mouth posture. To fix your tongue posture, you need to have your tongue rest on your palate.
Ideally, you want to use the back third of your tongue to put most of the pressure on your hard palate. Your tongue should rest flat and cover as much of your palate as it can. However, it would be best if you were careful to avoid touching your teeth.
To correct your mouth posture, you need to keep your lips sealed but relaxed. Your upper and lower teeth must be very close to correct the jaw posture, but they should never touch.
To learn how to mew like a pro, see our guide.
To deal with facial recession, you need to make sure you know all the tricks to mewing. For instance, you need to learn the proper swallowing and chewing technique.
For proper chewing technique, you need to focus on using your masseter muscles and teeth to chew your food. You can use your tongue to move around your food. You do not want to use your buccinator muscles to chew or move your food.
You can click here to learn how to chew properly when you mew.
For the proper swallowing technique, you need to use your tongue and suprahyoid muscles to swallow. You should not use your cheeks to suck your food to the back of your mouth. Instead, you should use your tongue to roll your food back with your tongue. Scoop the food and lift your tongue, letting the back third of your tongue press against your hard palate to swallow. You should see your thyroid cartilage move when you do this.
Be advised, however, mewing really only works for children when your tongue posture is guiding your facial growth. While it works for adults, it will take you years or decades to get a millimeter or two of change. If you want to fix your facial recession’s root cause as an adult, you would need a LeFort surgery.