Do Small Teeth Cause a Gummy Smile?

Gummy Smile Escondido, CA

At first glance, it may seem that a patient has a gummy smile because of small teeth, but this normally is not the case. Most gummy smiles are a result of gums covering up too much of the upper tooth. Smiles that have a disproportionate balance between teeth and gums can detract from a person’s appearance or make someone feel embarrassed to show their teeth. Fortunately, there are multiple procedures for eliminating that extra gum tissue.

Causes of a gummy smile

In a regular dental checkup, a dentist can identify the specific reason for a patient’s gummy smile. From there, the dentist can offer treatments that will work well for that patient. The ability to receive gum treatment may depend on oral health, including the stability of teeth in the mouth and the structure of the jawbone.

Overgrown gums

Gums that are overgrown are the most common cause of a gummy smile. Excessive gums can grow lower than the normal gumline on crowns, creating the false impression of small teeth. Several medications can cause gum tissue to grow more, but often people suffer from too much gum tissue because of genetics. In some cases, the gums may be inflamed, which indicates the onset of gum disease. Since this disease can be disastrous to oral health over time, a dentist may recommend gum treatment to eliminate hidden plaque causing the problem.

Lip muscles

Occasionally, the problem is not in the gums but in the lip muscles. When these muscles are hyperactive, they can pull the lips up too far when a person smiles. This reveals an unusual amount of gum tissue to create that unwanted smile. Treatments for this focus on controlling the lip muscles rather than doing anything to the gums.

Dental misalignments

If any bones or muscles relating to the mouth are misaligned, the impacts may show in the smile. Gums may be more visible if someone suffers from an extreme overbite, in which the teeth naturally protrude and pull the lips back during a grin or laugh.


Understanding how each treatment works to fix individual problems can help patients make informed decisions on the right one. Not all treatments benefit each problem, and some patients may require more than one treatment to ensure the desired result.

Gum reshaping and crown lengthening

By scraping away the excess gum on each tooth, a dentist can remove the gummy part of a smile and form an entirely new gumline that is even and balanced. This also reveals more of each crown, making them appear longer.

Lip modifications

Injections into the lip muscles can help relax and control them to prevent an overly-large smile. Muscles may continue to be injected until they only reveal the proper amount of teeth and gums.


If a jutting jawbone is the problem, braces can work to rework a person’s bite. This straightens misaligned teeth, corrects overbites or underbites, and removes the look of excess gums.


Consulting with a dentist is a good way to discover options for any problems leading to a problem smile. From there, patients can decide what treatment route to take.

Request an appointment here: or call Escondido Family Dental Care & Specialty Center at (760) 201-4089 for an appointment in our Escondido office.

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Gummy Smile in Escondido, CA.

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