The appeal of a smile has to do with both aesthetics and perception. When people seek cosmetic dental treatment because they are unhappy with their smiles, chances are they have a legitimate problem. Some individuals' feel they show too much gum tissue or their gums are too prominent when they smile. Either their teeth appear too small, or so much gum tissue shows that the teeth are not making an impact. And a gummy smile can make a person feel self-conscious.
So what is the definition of a gummy smile? That's a matter of perception, and therefore will vary from person to person. But it has been shown that a smile will usually be perceived as gummy when four millimeters — a tad more than an eighth of an inch — of gum tissue shows.
Many people are not aware that there are options for correcting or altering the appearance of an excessively gummy smile. If a gummy smile impacts a person's enjoyment of life, comfort, and well-being, it could just be time to do something about it. And a lot can be done. First, your dentist will need to determine exactly why your smile looks gummy because understanding the cause always directs us towards the best solution.
The Tissue Is Not Just Gum Tissue
Gummy smiles look, well, gummy, when the proportions of the teeth, gum tissues, and the upper jaw are not in harmony with each other. The position of the upper lip also plays a role. Gumminess in your smile, then, is a combination of:
- The amount of gum tissue display
- The size and the shape of the teeth
- The length and the degree of movement of the upper lip.
- The vertical position of the upper jaw and teeth in the relationship to the skull
The Tooth And Gum Tissue "Complex"
At the heart of the matter is the proportionality of the teeth to the gum tissues. Tooth eruption is an active process by which the teeth move through the gums and supporting bone to become visible in the mouth. It usually ceases in adulthood when growth is completed and when the permanent (adult) teeth meet their antagonists (upper teeth meet the lowers in the opposing jaw).
But the process doesn't stop there; the gum and bone tissues shrink back and stabilize typically somewhere in the late teens in girls and early 20's in boys. Ideal crown length (the visible part of the tooth above the gum line) is approximately 10 mm; this is considered normal. The ratio of crown width to length is about 75-85%, which is also what is viewed as normal.
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