A smile lights up a person’s face but not everyone is happy with how their smile looks. Some people feel that when they smile they show too much of their gums, or that their gums are simply too prominent when they smile and take all the glory away from their pearly white teeth – this is often referred to as a ‘gummy smile’ which can make people feel self-conscious and thus unwilling to smile, especially in photographs.
After rarely coming across a good fix for gummy smiles, I spent a while looking into potential treatment options for patients who came into my clinic seeking a solution. Most importantly, the question that I wanted to answer was: ‘what is the least invasive method of reducing the look of a gummy smile without some serious oral surgery’. Gingivectomy, the medical term for removing gum tissue surgically, is in itself costly and rather a radical approach to my mind.
One of the most important things from a moral point of view in regard to cosmetic procedures, in which we must always put the best interests of the patient first is: does the procedure work, and if so is it cost effective for the client?
Finally, I am confident to say a big YES to the use of anti-wrinkle injections with botulinum toxin or Botox™ to treat gummy smiles. The results are quite outstanding, providing a trained specialist carries out the procedure.
Techniques vary but the clinician should look at where the problem area lies and have a very good understanding of the anatomy of the muscles around the mouth. There are 4 injections points that can be used to depress the lip in different locations so it is vital that these are marked out from an anatomical point of view before the drug is injected.
The aim is to target and weaken, or relax, only those muscles around the mouth that are causing the excess retraction of the lip upon smiling, which then displays the extra gum tissue. Assessing and knowing which muscles to treat and the dose of toxin to deliver is very important, as the last thing you want to impact on is the general movement of the mouth and lips which could affect the ability to smile all together, or cause difficulties with speech, chewing, drinking or even create a ptosis or drooping of the lips and mouth.
Always ensure you choose an expert clinician with experience and training in carrying out advanced Botox™ treatment such as this, as it is vital this procedure is performed correctly to ensure that you have both the optimum effect and also a reduced risk of the side effects mentioned.
Thankfully, such potential side effects are short lived should the worst happen after treatment. This also means that the treatment of gummy smiles with botulinum toxin is not a permanent solution and will need regular top-ups after around 4 to 6 months to maintain your ‘new’ smile.
Here are some before and after photos of the pre- and post- effects of Botox™ injections carried out my clinic for the treatment of gummy smile.
Before (Top) and After (Bottom) treatment of a gummy smile with Botulinum Toxin.