Botox Injections Help Resolve A Gummy Smile

Some individuals aren't thrilled about their smile, and not because there's anything wrong with their teeth. Instead, they feel self-conscious because so much of their upper gum shows when they smile. It may be surprising to learn that many cosmetic dentists provide Botox injections to prevent the skin above the upper lip from contracting as much. That way, less gum shows. 

Why Some Smiles Show So Much Gum Tissue

Showing a large amount of gum when smiling isn't considered any sort of medical or dental problem. Nevertheless, it may be considered a cosmetic problem if the person doesn't like how his or her smile looks.

The appearance of excess gum during smiling can occur if a person's teeth are relatively small, if the gums are unusually long or if the area above the upper lip is relatively short. In some cases, the jaw and facial bone structure is responsible. 

How Botox Works on Facial Skin 

Botox is a neurotoxin with paralyzing effects. When injected into skin and muscles, it inhibits movement. That's why it's commonly used in rejuvenating facial applications. The muscles can't move to show lines and wrinkles that naturally appear when frowning or smiling. 

After a dentist injects Botox into the area above the upper lip, the muscles can't draw the skin upward. The lips still form into a perfectly normal smile, but the skin doesn't move so far upward toward the nose. 

Relevant Research

Numerous studies have evaluated the success of Botox injections for reducing a so-called "gummy" smile. A study published in 2010, for example, found a 75-percent average improvement for patients receiving the injections. 


If the gummy smile is caused by bone structure, Botox injections will not help.

Botox is only a temporary fix. The effects generally last between four to six months. That means the patient needs to come back to the clinic for injections two or three times a year, and none of this is covered by insurance.

However, the only way to permanently resolve the problem is through surgery. That option is substantially more expensive than Botox injections are, and also is not covered by insurance because it's a cosmetic procedure. 

What You Can Do Now

If you're interested in reducing the amount of gum that shows when you smile, talk with a cosmetic dentist (such as Dr. George Yarzabek, DDS). Set an appointment to find out if you're a good candidate. You can try the injections one time and see whether you like the effects. If so, you may want to continue having them as needed.