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Can Botox Fix A Gummy Smile

Sorriso femminileA gummy smile is a common complaint in the cosmetic dermatology clinic. In these patients, the upper gums are prominently exposed when smiling. The upper lip seems retracted high from the teeth, making the gingiva extremely visible. “Patients say they’re self-conscious, or try to cover their mouth when laughing or smiling,” says Dr. Miriam Hanson, board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic expert in Austin, Texas. For those seeking a solution to their gummy smile, a visit to a dentistry expert like the ones found at could be a great first step.

Why Does This Happen?

“The cause is really an anatomical one. Some patients have smaller teeth or a small upper lip,” explains Dr. Hanson. Studies have shown that the most aesthetically pleasing smiles show 2 millimeters or less of the gums above the teeth. Greater than 4 millimeters is typically considered a “gummy” smile.  In the past, a surgery known as a gingivectomy, was considered one of the best treatment options to correct this gingival show. The surgery removes a portion of the gums leaving a more even smile. “While highly effective, these surgeries were not without risk and significant downtime,” says Dr. Hanson. Nowadays, these cosmetic concerns can easily be treated with Botox, the same agent traditionally used for wrinkles and dynamic rhytides related to overactive muscles.

How Is It Treated?

Instead of an invasive surgical approach, Botox can be used to relax the muscle that raise or elevate the upper lip when smiling. “The levator labii superioris muscle passes closely by the base of the nose and connects to the top lip,” explains Dr. Hanson. “With two simple injections, this muscle can be relaxed and lower the amount of gum show when smiling.” The effects of Botox can last anywhere from 4-6 months, depending on the strength of your muscle, the amount of movement that takes place in the area, as well as individual patient factors.

“This specific treatment can be performed alone, or as part of a larger rejuvenation treatment for the lips, mouth and mid-face. Dr. Hanson treats patients with Botox for gummy smiles, lip lines and worry lines, as well as other cosmetic concerns at Sanova Dermatology.

With over 500,000 surgeries performed each year to reduce the amount of gum that appears when smiling, this minimally-invasive and effective approach is a great option for those not wanting surgery. The ability to make these smalls changes in our appearance can offer a huge boost in self-confidence, and not hold back a laugh or smile.