Last Updated November 2022

What is a gummy smile?

Simply put, a gummy smile is when excessive gum shows in a smile. Ideally, you should not show more than three millimetres of gums between the top of your tooth and the bottom of your upper lip.

Gum show can be excessive if your upper lip moves too high when you smile, and this can be treated cosmetically with anti-wrinkle injections or dermal fillers.

Enlargement of the gums or gingival hypertrophy is another cause of a gummy smile, and in this case, a dentist should immediately be contacted.

What causes a gummy smile?

There are various reasons why you may have a gummy smile, including genetics. However, some issues of use or poor oral hygiene can also cause excess gum tissue.

Misaligned teeth

Some adult teeth can naturally grow along with excess gum, which is often a genetic trait. These growth traits can be divided into three categories:

  • Altered passive eruption: Occurs when adult teeth are significantly covered by your gums when they grow in.
  • Dentoalveolar extrusion: If your front teeth grew in too far, your gums may have grown too far alongside them.
  • Vertical maxillary excess: The bones of your upper jaw have grown longer than their usual length.

Beyond growth issues, teeth that are crowded or have large gaps between them can seem too short for the amount of gum around them. This can happen even if your teeth are the right size, it is just the illusion created by misalignment.

Teeth or Gum Wear

Usage can cause your teeth to wear down over time, making your upper teeth shift downwards. The gums thus move down alongside the teeth, creating extra gum tissue.

Additionally, poor oral hygiene or excessive mouth breathing can encourage gum overgrowth.

Lip Differences

A gummy smile can be caused by a genetically short upper lip or overactive lip elevator muscles when smiling.

Long Face Syndrome

‘Long face syndrome’ has been known to cause a gummy smile. Difficulties with breathing through the nose during development can cause mouth breathing and failure of the tongue to rest on the palate of the mouth.

This leads to downward growth of the upper jaw rather than widening. This produces a long face, difficulties with closing the mouth, a relatively short upper lip and gum show.

How to fix a gummy smile

Even if genetics are at play, that does not mean gummy smiles are untreatable. There are various options available to fix any cause of a gummy smile.

Orthognathic surgery

If the issue lies in the set of your jaw, you can choose Orthognathic surgery to correct jaw bone irregularities. In the case of a gummy smile, this surgery usually aims to move the upper jaw upwards.

This option can be utilised alongside orthodontics like braces to guarantee a perfect smile. However, this procedure requires a substantial recovery, and is only available after jaw growth has stopped. This service is not offered at the Victorian Cosmetic Institute.

Gum lift

Gum surgery, also known as a gingivectomy, reshapes excess gum tissue with a scalpel or laser. This allows more teeth to be shown as the height of the gum line is reduced. This service is not offered at Victorian Cosmetic Institute.

Anti-wrinkle injections

One of the simplest treatments for a gummy smile are anti-wrinkle injections (muscle-relaxing injections). 

The levator labii superioris alaeque nasi muscle connects the middle corner of the eye to the upper lip and works to lift the upper lip and enables you to snarl. It is often coined the ‘Elvis muscle‘ for this reason. Small amounts of anti-wrinkle injections can be placed into this muscle to reduce gum show. 

Anti-wrinkle injections can also be injected into the muscle that surrounds the upper lip, the orbicularis oris. This muscle causes the lip to curl in and reduce in height, especially when smiling. Relaxing this muscle causes it to evert and become thicker, reducing gum show. One side effect of this treatment is the loss of some function of the upper lip and difficulties with using a straw, sipping tea or whistling. This problem is usually short-lived and well-tolerated by most who have the treatment.

This procedure is relatively quick and non-invasive. To see examples of results, you can refer to our before and after page.

Lip augmentation with dermal fillers

Combining muscle-relaxing injections and dermal fillers can improve the appearance of a gummy smile.

Dermal fillers can then be injected into the upper lip to help increase its thickness and better cover the upper gums. If you are unsure of the results, dermal fillers are fully reversible.

Who is a suitable candidate for gummy smile treatment?

Generally, anyone who has a gummy smile is suitable for treatment. Unless there is an underlying health issue, or impracticality of the procedure pertaining to your particular smile, treatment should be viable.

If you have any concerns or questions, ask your doctor for more information.

Who cannot get gummy smile injections?

The main reason why you may not be able to get your new smile is the placement of your features before treatment.

One issue is if you have a long distance between your nose and upper lip; also known as a cutaneous lip. Aesthetically this treatment may not be possible as the area will lengthen over time, making it less attractive.

Alternatively, if the bottom of your lip’s middle is lower than that of the outer lip when you smile, you cannot use muscle relaxant injections. Normally the muscle that lifts the middle of the lip is relaxed, but if it is lower than the outer part it will drop further after treatment. This is known as a joker smile.

How do I prepare for gummy smile treatment?

Preparation is best started by discussing your options with one of our experienced practitioners. They know your smile best and can offer the necessary treatment for your gummy smile.

What can I expect during gummy smile treatment?

Here at Victoria Cosmetic Institute, we specialise in anti wrinkle injections and dermal fillers. When it comes to the injections, the exact dosage of muscle relaxants used in the procedure will be determined by your doctor and injected into the chosen lip muscles. Oftentimes a smaller dosage will be used for your initial treatment, and a top up performed if required, to prevent over treatment. Fine needles are used, meaning there will be virtually no discomfort. 

There may be some bruising or swelling around the injection sites at that time, but they should disappear within two to three days. There will be a follow-up treatment needed at some point to maintain your smile.

If your doctor suggests dermal fillers, local anaesthesia will be used prior to fillers being injected with a cannula. Your practitioner will regularly assess the placement and effect of the filler throughout the procedure to ensure the best results.

If having dermal filler, this procedure can take anywhere from thirty to sixty minutes to perform, and will take a few weeks to fully take effect. Some swelling or bruising is likely to occur during this recovery time, and will take a week or two to disappear. If you’re having anti-wrinkle injections the treatment is much quicker to perform, taking anywhere from ten to twenty minutes to perform.

What are the risks and side effects of gummy smile injections?

Gummy smile treatments are generally low risk, but there are still some risks and side effects associated with the procedure:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Infection
  • Leakage or migration of a dermal filler
  • Injury to blood vessels
  • Asymmetries in the face

Over-treatment of gummy smiles is a significant, albeit temporary aesthetic risk with muscle relaxants and this can lead to the opposite problem. Starting with smaller doses helps to avoid this problem, and doses may be gradually increased as required

Any severe side effects are incredibly rare, but if you are concerned, you can further discuss the risks with your treating doctor before the procedure. They will review the best option with the lowest risk for your particular issue.


Is gummy smile treatment painful?

A numbing agent is used before any procedure, meaning that there should be no pain during the treatment.

How many treatments will I need?

An anti wrinkle injection treatment will take one to two treatments for a perfect smile. Dermal fillers generally only take the one, but both procedures need upkeep, which is determined by how effective the treatment is and how well it lasts. Dermal filler, if performed, would usually be in conjunction with anti-wrinkle injections.

How much does gummy smile treatment cost?

The exact costs depend on which treatment is chosen, as well as the number of treatments needed for your gummy smile. To get an estimate of how much your procedure may cost, our pricing page has a comprehensive list of treatment and consultation costs.

What is the recovery and down time like for gummy smile injections?

There are several rules to follow after a procedure in order to keep your smile healthy. These include:

  • Not touching the injection sites for at least six hours
  • No lying down for the next four hours
  • No makeup for four hours, and no acid face products for at least twenty-four hours
  • No heavy exercise or massages that day
  • Avoiding excess sun and saunas for at least one week

If you follow these rules, your new smile should maintain its shape with no further issues. If you find the bruising or swelling around your lips have not gone down during the time your doctor has estimated, or you are experiencing any significant pain, you should contact your doctor for consultation.

Why choose the Victorian Cosmetic Institute for your gummy smile treatment?

Our practitioners in Melbourne have many years of specialist experience in gummy smile treatment. We allow you ample time to communicate your aesthetic goals to us and use our expertise to help you achieve your desired outcome.

Our goals with your treatment are to;

  • Provide you with a careful and honest aesthetic assessment
  • Achieve the best aesthetic result possible
  • Cause as little bruising and swelling as possible
  • Ensure that your procedure is as comfortable as possible for you.

Making that first phone call about any cosmetic procedure can be a confronting task – many of our patients have preferred filling out our online booking form. We can then contact you with an understanding of the results you are hopeful of achieving and ensure the treatment is appropriate.

Otherwise, you can phone us directly on 1300 863 824.