What is a Gingival Smile Line?

What is a Gingival Smile Line

Did you know that the average person smiles about 20 times a day and happy people tend to smile about 40-50 times a day? Smiling is a powerful expression of happiness, joy, or contentment and it has been scientifically proven to improve your physical and emotional health. Therefore, many people recommend smiling as much as genuinely possible. 

smile lines

Most people only feel comfortable smiling if they are at least generally satisfied with the look of their smile, and people with broken, decayed, or missing teeth usually smile less than others. However, it is not only the teeth that affect the smile, but the supporting gum tissue as well. 

In fact, dentists use the presence of gum tissue to determine the type of smile an individual has. Although this may sound odd, defining the type of smile is a necessity for gingival cosmetic treatments, as well as to determine the best treatment method for other restorative or cosmetic procedures. 

The way you smile is determined by a few things: size and shape of the lips, facial muscles, size and shape of your teeth, and gum tissue. Cosmetic dentists define an optimal smile line as being one that shows the least amount of gum tissue possible. In cases where some gum tissue is present in the smile, it should have balanced and even contours that are complementary to the upper lip. 

There are two main types of smiles: low smile line and gingival smile line. A low smile line is generally viewed as a “normal” type of gum line where only the teeth are visible when smiling. A gingival smile line, on the other hand, is when the teeth and the upper gums are both visible when smiling. In some cases, this type of smile is also referred to as a gummy smile, high lip line, short upper lip, and full denture smile. 

Gingival smile lines alone do not necessarily require treatment. However, they may indicate the presence of an underlying dental condition that may need to be addressed. For example, if the high smile line is caused by the way your upper jaw bone grew, you may need to undergo orthodontic treatment to correct problems with the bite. Or if the cause is a hyperactive lip muscle, you may need to have treatment to relax that muscle. 

Before and after gum contouring surgery

In other cases, cosmetic treatment can be desired to improve the visual aesthetics of the smile by removing or reshaping the gum tissue. This is usually done with a procedure called a gingivectomy that is performed by a cosmetic dentist. Nowadays, many cosmetic dentists use dental lasers for this procedure to minimize bleeding and to decrease recovery time. 

Having a gingival smile line may also interfere with certain types of restorative dental treatments performed on the front teeth. This is usually determined on a case by case basis and depends on the extent of the problem, as well as its cause. In some cases, it may not affect the function of the restoration, but it could affect its appearance. Therefore, your dentist will discuss these things with you before any treatment. 

Overall, gingival smile lines are another way of describing a gummy smile where the upper gums are visible when smiling. They can be caused by a number of factors and their treatment is generally dependent on addressing these factors. Whether gum modification is desired for cosmetic reasons or for the placement of a dental restoration, there are different treatment options available that your cosmetic dentist can discuss with you. 

Dhaval Admar

Dr. Admar holds dual certificates — a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) in 2010 from India and a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) in 2014 from Canada. He is now a full time practicing dentist in Kamloops where he provides a variety of services. Dr. Admar spends hundreds of hours in continued dental education to stay up to date in cosmetic and implant dentistry and he has achieved several advanced qualifications.

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