Botox a Fix for “Gummy” Smiles?
52-year-old Susanna Miller-Pence didn’t feel comfortable smiling. It wasn’t because of her teeth, but the appearance of her gums bothered her. Every time she smiled, her upper lip was up so high thata large portion of her gums was exposed. This gave her a gummy smile, which she was not a fan of it. Miller-Pence stated, “The doctor explained that my gums were longer than my teeth, so the dimensions weren’t right.”
In 1999, Miller-Pence had an operation to remove the extra gum tissue, which is known as a gingivectomy. Just one month later, she couldn’t stop smiling. Finally, she didn’t have a gummy smile.
What causes gummy smiles?
There are a variety of reasons why people have gummy smiles. The most common reasons include having a short upper lip, excessive gum tissue or small teeth. Unfortunately, all of these problems are hereditary. Ideally, a smile should only show about two millimeters of gum.
Dr. Stan Heifetz, New York cosmetic dentist, stated, “Anything over three to four millimeters of gum showing starts to look gummy.”
Dentists, plastic surgeons and dermatologists have all done research on the matter. Nearly all the participants agreed that two millimeters or less of gum tissue produced the most normal smiles. Participants of the studies began noticing excessive gum tissue at three millimeters, and most people felt that over four millimeters was too much. Doctors concluded that approximately 14 percent of women and 7 percent of men have gummy smiles.
Dr. Jessica Suber, a physician in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth, stated, “I believe the incidence is probably higher than we think, but we specialists just see and count the ones we treat, which are on the low side since not many people come to the doctor and ask about treatments for this. It’s something a lot of patients aren’t aware of.”
Botox as a Solution
Years ago, surgery was the only option to treat the problem. This is a very painful and costly solution. Fortunately, a study in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal from March found that Botox could eliminate the appearance of a gummy smile.
Botox does provide a more cost efficient alternative to surgery. Typically, Botox costs a couple hundred dollars. The surgery that Miller-Pence underwent cost her $15,000, which is not covered by insurance. Botox is also a safer alternative.
Unfortunately, the use of Botox to correct a gummy smile will only work if the problem is in the lips. If the problem is in the bone, surgery would be the only option.
An exact number of operations done to correct gummy smiles are hard to determine, as most patients that undergo the procedure will combine it with other medical treatments. From 2005 to 2006, the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute estimated that 569,160 gingivectomies were performed.
If you suffer from a gummy smile, schedule a consultation with Dr. Reynolds. If the problem is in your lips, he can fix it by injecting Botox. He is a board certified plastic surgeon so you can be sure he will produce aesthetically pleasing results. For more information about plastic surgery in Las Vegas, contact 702.410.9800.