What is a gummy smile and can it be fixed?

A gummy smile, also known as excessive gingival display, is a condition where an excessive amount of gum tissue is visible above the upper teeth when smiling. This can affect an individual’s confidence and their willingness to smile freely. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available, including the use of Botox. 

Understanding a Gummy Smile

A gummy smile is typically defined by the amount of gum tissue that is visible when you smile. While some gum exposure is normal, a smile is generally considered “gummy” if more than 3 millimeters of gum tissue is visible. This condition can be caused by several factors, including hyperactive upper lip muscles, teeth size and shape, jaw development, and gum tissue overgrowth. Each of these factors contributes to how your smile appears and how much gum tissue is shown when you smile.

Hyperactive upper lip muscles are a common cause of a gummy smile. When these muscles are overactive, they lift the upper lip higher than normal when you smile, exposing more of the gum tissue. Additionally, the size and shape of your teeth can also affect the appearance of your smile. Smaller teeth or those that are excessively worn can make the gums appear more prominent. Jaw development issues, such as excessive vertical growth of the upper jaw, can also contribute to a gummy smile. Lastly, some individuals may have an overgrowth of gum tissue due to genetics or certain medications, which can lead to a gummy smile.

How Botox Can Fix a Gummy Smile

Botox, a neurotoxin that temporarily paralyzes muscles, can be used to treat a gummy smile by relaxing the hyperactive muscles that cause the upper lip to lift excessively. The process begins with a consultation at our reputable clinic in Clapham. During this consultation, the practitioner will assess your smile, determine the underlying cause, and discuss your treatment goals. This initial assessment is crucial for creating a customized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs.

During the treatment, a small amount of Botox is injected into the muscles that elevate the upper lip. This typically includes the levator labii superioris alaeque nasi (LLSAN) muscle. The injections are quick and cause minimal discomfort. Botox works by relaxing these targeted muscles, preventing the upper lip from rising too high when you smile. The results are usually noticeable within a few days, with full effects appearing after about two weeks. This treatment provides a more balanced smile with less gum exposure.

Benefits of Using Botox for a Gummy Smile

Opting for Botox to correct a gummy smile offers several advantages. One of the primary benefits is that Botox provides a non-invasive alternative to surgical options, reducing risks and recovery time. The treatment itself is quick, often completed within 15-30 minutes, making it a convenient option for busy individuals. There is minimal to no downtime, allowing you to resume your normal activities immediately.

Additionally, the effects of Botox are reversible. If you’re not satisfied with the results, the effects will wear off over time, typically within 3-6 months. This allows you to try the treatment without committing to permanent changes. Botox also allows for gradual, natural-looking improvements. The treated area will show a more balanced smile with less gum exposure, enhancing your overall facial aesthetics without drastic alterations.

Other Treatment Options for a Gummy Smile

While Botox is an effective and non-invasive treatment, other options may be considered depending on the severity and underlying cause of the gummy smile. Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or aligners, can help adjust the position of the teeth and jaw, potentially reducing gum exposure. A gingivectomy, a surgical procedure that removes excess gum tissue, can also be an option for some patients.

Lip repositioning surgery adjusts the position of the upper lip to reduce gum visibility, providing a more permanent solution for a gummy smile. Crown lengthening involves reshaping the gum tissue and bone to expose more of the teeth, improving the tooth-to-gum ratio. These treatments can be discussed with your practitioner to determine the best approach for your specific situation.

Aftercare and Maintenance

Following your Botox treatment, it’s important to adhere to any aftercare instructions provided by your practitioner to ensure optimal results. Common recommendations include avoiding strenuous exercise, refraining from touching or massaging the treated area, and staying upright for a few hours post-treatment. These steps help prevent the Botox from migrating to unintended areas and ensure that it works effectively on the targeted muscles.


A gummy smile can affect your confidence, but effective treatments are available to help you achieve a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing smile. Botox offers a non-surgical, quick, and effective solution to reduce gum exposure and enhance your smile. With the right treatment, you can smile confidently and feel great about your appearance.

Contact us today at our BTX London clinic in Balham for a personalised consultation. We’re more than just a Botox clinic—we’re your partners in your aesthetic journey in Clapham.

Feel free to book Botox treatments at our clinic in Balham with Dr. Raman here.

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