'I could smell my gum burning away.' What's really involved in getting rid of a gummy smile.

Most people have that one niggling thing. You know — the one chief concern you kinda wish would just... bugger off. Persistent acne. Crooked teeth. Hair that never sits right. 

For Leanne, it's always been her gummy smile.

"It's something I've felt self conscious about since... forever," she shared with Mamamia. "I've always avoided smiling in photos or usually just smile with my lips closed, because my gums are always all I can see. They've been that way since I was young."

Watch: When you've got something in your teeth. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

For her 30th birthday, Leanne got herself a "gummy smile makeover."

And yes, this is a real thing.

The process? Laser surgery to remove excess gum.

"I could smell my gum burning away," shared Leanne. "But the results made it so worth it. I finally feel confident and have not stopped smiling!"

Cool cool cool. 

We just.... can smell your burning gums?? 

We need to talk about gummy smile laser treatment. As a matter of urgency.

To find out more, we spoke to cosmetic dentist Dr Aodhan Docherty from About Smiles and asked him everything to know about gummy smile makeovers.


Are gummy smile makeovers common?

Apparently gummy smile treatment is more common than you might think. In fact, Dr Docherty said "gummy smile makeovers are one of the most popular makeovers we do in our cosmetic dental clinic." Told ya!

"These makeovers are usually for people who are more conscious of the amount of gum they show when they smile. The amount of gum they're showing is generally more than one to two millimetres above the edge of the gum line of their front four to six teeth."

"These patients commonly feel self conscious of showing too much gum when they smile or feel uncformtable doing a 'big smile' in social situations."

How to fix a gummy smile.

Gummy smile procedures aren't a one-size-fits all kind of deal. During a consultation with your dentist, they'll be able to pinpoint exactly what kind of treatment will work for you — and it all comes down to the individual problem leading to the gummy smile. 

There are four main types of treatment.

1. Gum lift.

If the gummy smile is due to excess gum but your teeth and jaw are in the right position, the most common procedure is a laser gum lift.

After recieving anaesthetic, the treatment involves "using a diode laser at a pre-determined level," explained Dr Docherty, "following a line where the patients gum should be." 

"Within seven to 14 days this will heal and your gums will look amazing."

2. Surgical crown lengthening.

For people who have excess gum and bone, a crown lengthening procedure is usally the best option.


"If you have gum and bone excess, i.e. the bone also goes over the teeth — not just the excess gum — then you need to do a surgery to remove the bone as well."

"This is something that can take up to six months to heal."

3. Jaw surgery.

Another common cause of a gummy smile is a condition when the jawbone is sitting too far down, explained Dr Docherty. "This requires surgery to put your jaw up into the right spot." 

"Otherwise, if you do a gum laser procedure on these types of patients, their teeth become too long."

3. Anti-wrinkle injections.

The third category of people with a gummy smile, are those that have a hyper-mobile upper lip. 

"This means they have an upper lip that's very strong and moves up like a curtain or a blind, showing all the gum."

This type of gummy smile can be treated with anti-wrinkle injections (which essentially freeze the over-active muscles in this area).

Can you smell your gums burning during laser gum lift?

Oh, come on - you were thinking it!

"The procedure shouldn't cause any burning smells," said Dr Docherty. "If you are experienceing burning gums, it means that the suction is not being held close enough (to take the steam and smell away) during the treatment. It all comes down to the operator and nurse's skill."

"The vast majority of patients tell me that that the procedure is very comfrotable and that they thought it would be a lot worse or 'more intense' than it actually is."

How do you know if you have a gummy smile?

Now, for the golden question. How do you actually.... know... if you have a gummy smile? 

According to our expert, if you do your biggest smile and see more than a couple of millimetres of gum — you have what is considered a 'high smile line' or a 'gummy smile'. However, that doesn't mean you necessarily need to touch your gums! Nah.


"If you have a gummy smile and it's more than two millimetres and it bothers you, you can get treatment. Otherwise, if it doesn't, bother you — don't worry! Because with time your lip muscle activity will decrease and you'll naturally get 'less gummy' with time."

"In fact, if I have someone come in with three or four millimetres (of gum) showing, I'll tell them not to worry about it if their teeth are normal size. Because in ten years, you'll be seeing one to two millimetres of gum and your smile will look really nice versus those people who don't show any gum — their lip is going to get less and less active with time and show less and less teeth."


"That's why a lot of older people have lower smile lines with age. A big complaint from people in their 50s and 60s is that they do not show enough teeth when they smile. So, it's not that bad if you have an overactive lip muscle at a young age!"

Before and after gum lift.

Image: Dr Aodhan Docherty.


Image: Dr Aodhan Docherty.


After (top) and before (bottom). Image credit: Dr Aodhan Docherty.

"Gummy smiles are something we treat every single day. Nearly 50 per cent of my procedures involve some part of gum work or gum lifting. It's a super common procedure and shouldn't be something you're scared of - or embarassed by!"

Want to learn more from Dr Aodhan Docherty? Follow him on Instagram.

Have you ever considered a gun lift? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty

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