Why Do Some People Have More Gum Tissue than Others?

What causes a gummy smile

Could gum contouring or crown lengthening be right for your smile?

Are you concerned that your smile shows a bit too much gum? A gummy smile is one of the most common issues that people have with the appearance of their smile. Options such as gum contouring and crown lengthening can help adjust a gummy smile, but how can you tell if your smile is too gummy and what caused it?

What’s actually considered a gummy smile?

Defining what a gummy smile means can be complicated. It’s not just about the amount of gum tissue but also the size and shape of your teeth, upper lip, and the position of your upper jaw. All of these elements play a part in the appearance of your smile and how much gum tissue is visible.

There’s also the matter of personal taste. Some people might have noticeably gummy smiles and never even notice. Others might have only a slightly disproportionate smile and be deeply concerned about it. Whether you seek out gum contouring or crown lengthening to balance your smile often comes down to your personal choice.

In general, 4 mm or about ⅛ inch is considered to be the line between a typical and a gummy smile. However, there are other factors at play, so you’ll need a consultation with a cosmetic dentist to find out whether you could benefit from gum reduction.

What causes a gummy smile?

A wide range of potential factors can lead to a gummy smile. If you believe your smile is too gummy, it could be due to one or a combination of these reasons.


Having a gummy smile doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. Like many other aspects of appearance, the proportion of teeth and gums in individual smiles can vary naturally based on their genetics.

Some people simply have more gum tissue. A gum reduction or crown lengthening is often the best treatment option for these cases. If there are no other underlying issues, adjusting the appearance of your smile is the only real concern.

Bite Issues

Gum tissue isn’t the only factor in how your smile looks. Your bite, the way your teeth sit together when your mouth is closed, can also cause a gummy smile. If your upper and lower jaw don’t align properly, the upper jaw can protrude, showing more gum.

If bite issues are the reason for your gummy smile, you may need orthodontic treatment. Invisalign or other options can realign your teeth. This balances your smile and provides a better long-term oral health outlook.

Hyperactive Upper Lip

When you smile, your upper lip stretches and rises, exposing your teeth and some gum tissue. Ideally, it only shows a little bit of gum tissue for an attractive and balanced smile. However, a hyperactive upper lip can expose too much.

A hyperactive lip is caused by the upper lip muscles raising the lip too aggressively. Excessive facial hyperactivity might call for treatments like Botox; however, gum contouring and other dental options can also help in these cases.

Irregular Tooth Eruption

Tooth eruption is when a tooth first emerges in your mouth, pushing through the gums to do so. Aside from the wisdom teeth, all the adult teeth erupt by around the age of 13. An irregular eruption can lead to a lasting impact on the appearance of your smile.

When your teeth erupt, they might not emerge fully. This can leave them covered in gum tissue, causing a gummy smile. Various orthodontic issues such as crowding, impaction, and crooked teeth can also affect the balance of your smile.

Gum Inflammation

If you’ve just noticed recently that your smile is showing too much gum, it could be due to gum inflammation. If your gum line is irritated by bacteria, it can become inflamed and swollen, which can make your gum tissue appear larger.

Poor oral hygiene is one of the leading causes of gum inflammation. If you aren’t brushing and flossing regularly, then the bacteria in your mouth can multiply and affect your gums. This ultimately leads to gum disease and other serious consequences.

Some Medications

There are a variety of medications that can cause your gums to become enlarged or swollen. Many types of immunosuppressants, which are commonly used to prevent tissue rejection, can do this. Epilepsy medications and certain heart disease medications can also have the same effect.

Find out what you can do for your smile.

If your smile is not what you consider to be ideal for you, you can visit Dr. Desai at Luminous Smiles to find out which treatment options are right for you. Dr. Desai’s expertise in smile design lets her find the perfect solution for your smile. Reach out today to book your consultation with a cosmetic dentist in Newport Beach, CA.