Reduce your Gummy Smile with No Surgery


There are non-surgical alternatives that help to a greater or lesser extent and are much less invasive, not to mention far quicker.

As mentioned above one of these options is braces or splint to move the teeth a more aesthetically pleasing position. These surgical options are not only potentially painful, but are also quite time consuming, and braces and splints can take up to a year to have the desired effect.

The other options include simple procedures which can be done by a doctor in a cosmetic clinic. They include using lip filler to enhance the size and shape of the upper lip so that less gums show when you smile, as well as the use of anti-wrinkle injections to weaken the muscles that elevate the lips in smiling.

Ultimately the treatment modality that you choose depends on the severity of your gummy smile, the amount that it is impacting your life and your confidence, your budget, and your tolerance for invasive procedures.

It may be that you want to just start slowly and try a non-surgical treatment before moving on to other more permanent solutions.


The use of anti-wrinkle injections is the mainstay of treating a gummy smile in cosmetic clinics, and to understand why, we need to understand the action of anti-wrinkle injections. The reason that anti-wrinkle injections work is because they weaken the action of specifically chosen muscles in the face that cause wrinkles when they contract.

We can take advantage of this muscle weakening action to treat a gummy smile too by decreasing the amount that the upper lip is lifted during a smile, meaning that less gum will be shown.

Orbicularis oris is the ring of muscle directly around the lips, and when it contracts it causes the lips to invert and appear thinner. Weakening this muscle causes the upper lip to “pop out” or “flip out” somewhat, enhancing the appearance of the upper lip.

You may have heard of this procedure under the name “lip-flip”, and it can be added to a treatment with lips fillers. In this case it serves largely the same purpose, namely showing more of the pink of the lip.

The other muscle which can be injected is the elegantly named Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi (LLSAN). LLSAN is also known as the “Elvis Presley muscle”, as it elevates the lip into the “snarl” that Elvis made famous (if you don’t know who Elvis was, ask your mum or dad).

Weakening this muscle with just the smallest amount of anti-wrinkle injections can causes the lip to raise just a few millimeters less and show slightly less gum, which can make all the difference to the appearance of a smile.

The treatment takes literally a minute and is just one tiny injection on either side of the face. Because this is usually an area which bleeds very little, there is really no recovery time to speak of, and you can go back to your usual activities immediately.

The anti-wrinkle injections used typically take between forty-eight hours to fourteen days to start to have an effect.

The main point to emphasize with these injections is my usual mantra of “start low and go slow”. This is quite an advanced and tricky area to treat and injecting too much medication can weaken the lips so much that you may have trouble lifting the lips.

In milder cases this can affect your ability to purse your lips and drink through a straw. For this reason, your injector should only start with the lowest possible dose, and then wait two weeks for the injections to take effect.

Your surgeon should review you at a two-week point and see how much your lip elevation and “gumminess” has decreased. If your injector needs to add more (again, the smallest doses possible) you can do so at this review. Caution is the key here!

Once you and your injector have established the correct dose for you at this review appointment, you can work from this dose in the future. These injections are tiny and ice is used to numb the area prior to injecting, so the pain experienced is minimal.

As opposed to surgical treatments, which are permanent, you will need to have your anti-wrinkle injections repeated every twelve weeks or so. On the plus side, as the doses involved are so tiny, the cost is minimal.

Dental Surgery


Another way in which cosmetic doctors can help with protruding gums is to enhance the upper lip with fillers. This adds volume to the upper lip and helps to cover more the gum during smiling. Lip injections are one of the most common procedures performed in cosmetic clinics, and usually take about ten minutes.

The filler used in the lips can be expected to last for about six to twelve months, depending on a lot of factors which include the filler type used and your own ability to metabolize or break-down the filler. The recovery time for lip fillers varies, as some people experience swelling in the lips for the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours, which then rapidly settles.

There are various ways to minimize this swelling including the use of ice packs, arnica cream, anti-histamines and sleeping upright on a few pillows for the first night or two.


Gummy smile is for the most part caused by an interplay of factors involving the teeth, the jaw bone, the gums, the lips and the facial muscles which cause smiling when contracted. There is no involvement from the skin itself.


As mentioned above the causes of gummy smile are multifactorial, and often involve the jaw, the gums and the teeth, as well as the lips. If you have a gummy smile that has been caused by an underlying structural issue with the teeth or jaw, you may also have an improper “bite” which may affect your oral health in the long run.

In these cases, it is recommended to seek an opinion from a dental specialist.

If you have a gummy smile, treatment with anti-wrinkle injections or dermal fillers to the lips may be a simple, quick and cheaper alternative to more invasive surgical procedures.