Excess Gum Tissue (Gummy Smile)

It is not uncommon to see excess gum (gummy smile) tissue around the teeth. This often gives the appearance of very short teeth and a smile dominated by gum tissue. This situation can occur for a variety of reasons.

A common condition leading to this appearance is called “altered-passive eruption.”  In this situation, as the teeth erupt through the gums and descend towards their final position, the gum tissue does not complete its initial retraction upwards. This leaves excess gum covering part of the tooth that should be visible.  

Gum inflammation due to plaque and bacteria can lead to excessive, puffy, red-blue gingival tissues around the teeth. This can occur from ineffective oral hygiene, plaque retention from oral appliances (like braces), or medications that make gum tissues very sensitive to plaque formation.

Another common reason for this appearance is a “big” smile or “high lip line”. In this situation, the individual presents with a broad smile that shows a great deal more of the gum tissue than is commonly visible.

Lastly, a “gummy” smile may occur when teeth become significantly worn down, altering the balance of visible tooth structure and gum tissue.