Tips for Fixing a Gummy Smile
A gummy smile, one that shows an extensive amount of gum above the upper teeth, can be a significant cosmetic embarrassment for some people. The concern may even be pronounced enough to keep a person from smiling very often, which can be detrimental in both professional and social circles. In the past, correction of a gummy smile could only be performed surgically, which was expensive and involved a significant amount of discomfort and recovery time. Today, the gummy smile can be fixed in just a few painless minutes, thanks to an old procedure that has found a new benefit.
Causes of a Gummy Smile
A gummy smile can be caused by a number of factors:
- Excess gum tissue that protrudes when you smile
- Thin upper lip that lacks volume to cover gums
- Hyperactive muscle that pulls upper lip higher than normal
- Small teeth that do not fill up the open smile sufficiently
In the past, many of these causes were addressed surgically. In some cases, the excess gum tissue was surgically removed to create a smoother upper lip contour. Another option was to sever the upper lip muscles so they no longer pulled the lip to an unnatural position. Extreme cases involved a procedure known as orthognathic surgery, which realigns the upper jaw. This particular procedure may take up to two years to complete due to the need for orthodontic (braces) appliances. and the complexity of the surgery limited the number of surgeons that could perform it successfully.
How Botox Treatments Help
Now, patients unhappy with their gummy smiles are turning to a less invasive but equally effective method for lowering the upper lip – Botox injections. Botox is a prescription medication that contains trace amounts of the botulinum toxin. When injected into facial muscles, it relaxes them without compromising a person’s ability to make facial expressions.
The injectable has become the go-to anti-aging treatment for lines and creases around the forehead and eyes. Now, the treatment is also proving effective in relaxing the muscles of the upper lip, bringing the lip down and minimizing the appearance of the gummy smile.
Botox injections take just a few minutes to complete and do not involve any downtime. While the results of Botox are temporary, the results tend to last longer in the lip than they do in other areas of the face. In fact, many patients that seek this gummy smile treatment find their results last up to six months before a touch-up procedure is required.
Adding Lip Plumping to the Mix
Some patients may also opt to add a lip plumping procedure to the mix to further enhance their results. This can be easily achieved with injections of a dermal filler that adds volume and fullness to a thin, undefined upper lip. Dermal fillers are also temporary treatments, but results may last up to one year depending on the individual patient.
While Botox is a relatively straightforward anti-aging procedure, its use as a gummy smile treatment is still relatively new. It is important to find a plastic surgeon with ample experience in this procedure to ensure positive results. If the Botox is not injected into precise locations on the lip, the patient could end up with a crooked smile that may last a number of months.
Dr. Rappaport has experience using Botox to treat a gummy smile. He also has worked with a variety of dermal fillers to enhance the fullness and definition of the lips. To learn more about this new treatment, contact Houston Center for Plastic Surgery at (713) 790-4500.