Do my gums affect the way my smile looks? - Prof. Howard Gluckman

Do my gums affect the way my smile looks?

A healthy, attractive smile is the result of many elements working together.

Each time you smile, it involves more than just your lips and teeth. Your gums play a vital role as well.

In this blog article, you will learn the aesthetic value of your gums, including gum-related conditions that can negatively impact your smile.

The Aesthetics of Your Gums

Aside from covering the bones of your teeth and mouth and forming a protective barrier against bacteria, gums play an essential role in determining the quality of your smile.

Your gum line is an important part of your smile’s symmetry. When your gum line is regular, it merges with the teeth in an aesthetically pleasing manner. If there is irregularity on the other hand, the eye will be drawn to the areas of the gum line where the discrepancies exist.

When gum tissue rests too low or too high on your teeth, this can result in an unsatisfactory looking smile. On the other hand, when your gums are too high, this gives your teeth a ‘long’ appearance.

Gum-related conditions that can negatively impact your smile.

Healthy gums appear pink and stippled. The tissue creates an arc around the tooth which can be flat or highly curved. The space between the teeth is filled with a triangle of gum called the papilla. The symmetry of this tissue around the tooth is essential for aesthetics.

An irregular contour will break the symmetry and detract from a beautiful smile. Irregularities in the gum-line can be caused by an infection like gingivitis or periodontitis, developmental defects, gum recession caused by orthodontics or incorrect toothbrushing techniques, tooth loss, excessive gingival pigmentation, and excessive gum display during smiling.

Gingivitis & Periodontitis

A very noticeable instance of unaesthetic gums is when a patient is experiencing some form of gum disease. In this case, the gums are prone to having a red and puffy appearance and they may bleed in some cases. Periodontitis and gingivitis are two forms of gum disease that can negatively impact the gums in different ways. The most common and visible effects are redness and swelling.

An example of swollen gums

In cases of advanced periodontitis, bone is destroyed, which leads to recession of the gum line. This recession in turn can result in unsightly root exposure and the formation of a dark triangle between the teeth.

Patient Before Treatment
Patient After Treatment

Gum Recession

Receding gums are another unsightly instance where unhealthy gums negatively impact the aesthetics of a smile.

Patient with gum recession before treatment
Patient with gum recession after treatment

Gum recession results in an irregular gum line as it diminishes the aesthetic line of your gingival contour. This condition is characterised by receding gum tissue from the tooth surface. This recession, in turn, exposes the root of a tooth, can lead to increased temperature sensitivity and inflammation of the gums. 

To address the damage caused by gum recession, we regenerate gum tissue to restore your gum contour to its original condition.

Tooth Loss

Missing teeth lead to loss of gum, bone and papillae, which results in a highly unaesthetic smile.

Maintaining this tissue utilising special procedures at implant placement is key to preventing the collapse of these tissues over time.

Gum Pigmentation

Gums with pigmentation

In some cases, pigmented gums can be considered an unaesthetic aspect of a smile. Darker coloured gums can be the result of a range of causes:

  • Genetics
  • Excess melanin build up in the gums
  • Smoking
  • The side effects from certain medications

In some cases, there can be contrasting colours in the gum that can be unaesthetic when you smile. The pigmentation can be easily removed using laser technology so the gums can have a uniform and more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Gummy Smiles

A Gummy Smile

An equally unaesthetic condition that affects the appearance of your teeth is excessive gingival display, commonly known as a gummy smile.

A gummy smile shows too much gum and detracts from the ideal aesthetics. Gummy smiles can be the result of several factors that include:

  • Lip Height and mobility – In cases where the lips are too short and don’t cover the teeth or hypermobile which means the muscles lift the lips higher than normal exposing more gum in the smile. 
  • Disparities in the growth of one’s gum and jaw bone – The way adult teeth develop can result in a gummy smile. A good example is when gums cover more of the teeth’ surface when they have fully erupted (altered passive eruption). These teeth are generally very square and have a flat gum profile.   Excessive growth of the bones of the upper jaw may lead to excessive gum being exposed(vertical maxillary excess). In these cases the teeth are a normal shape and height.

We address this problem by removing the excess gum and exposing the full extent of the teeth. In this way, we improve the aesthetics of the case dramatically. Hypermobile lips can be managed with Botox and other plastic surgical procedures.

We can also help you with the diagnosis and help with the management in collaboration with plastic surgeons.  Patients with excessive overgrowth of the bone need to be treated by orthodontics and maxillofacial surgery.  All of these treatments require correct diagnosis utilising the Digital Smile Design protocol so that the best treatment options can be developed.

How can I keep my gums as healthy as they can be?

Seeing that your gums play such an influential role in the appearance of your smile, it is essential to take good care of them.

You can support the continued good health of your gums by following the five tips below:

  1. Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleaning appointments with your oral hygienist.
  2. Avoid indulging in too many sugary foods and drinks.
  3. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, but wait 30 minutes to an hour after drinking or eating to get the best results.
  4. Avoid excessive and hard brushing that can lead to gum recession
  5. Drink lots of water.
  6. Make sure you eat fibre-rich fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, carrots, broccoli and beets.

Dr Gluckman and the team have extensive experience treating various aesthetic cases, including gummy smiles, gum recession or related aesthetic issues related to your gums.

Let’s help you regain confidence in your smile.

Book your appointment with Dr Gluckman today.

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