As far as I am concerned, most gummy smiles are caused by orthodontics, at least made a lot worse by it. I’m willing to bet most that have self-consciousness about their gummy smiles also had orthodontics when they were younger. Here is my story and how I resolved mine.
My story (in brief)
- At age 18 went through orthodontic to resolve crowding and finally have a smile with no self-consciousness.
- was told I had stopped growing already, and I had no space in my jaw to fit all teeth, so there was no other option but to extract
- in my naivety, I trusted the Dr. and went through with the extraction orthodontic treatment (4 bicuspids extracted)
- 2 years later braces came off, I had straight teeth but the smile was made narrow and the teeth was pulled back to fill the extraction spaces. I also had more gummy smile because the teeth were pulled back.
- for the next two years, I fought with self-consciousness about my smile still. trying to change my thinking, but it never worked.
- See I had straight teeth but my smile was narrow, I became envious of people with wide smile,like G-Dragon’s a leader of Korean hip-hop R&B group,music I was into at the time
- I learned that to have a great smile, the dental arch has to be wide and the teeth has to be forward in the face. Which is the opposite of what happened to me when I went through with extraction orthodontics, where the teeth were pushed back and made more narrow to fill in the gaps made by extraction.
- The realization that my smile will always be inferior since I had 4 adult teeth missing, one day I think I got tired of it all and began to explore the possibility to reverse what was done
- months of research online ensued, and finally found the right orthodontist to go through it all again the second time, this time to reverse everything that was done by my first Dr.
- we began to expand the palate wider (sideways expansion) and push the front teeth forwards (forward expansion), also tipping the front teeth forwards to a great degree to the point of having open bite. (will come back to this later)
- My smile got wider and wider, gummy smile disappeared, and face began to improve, and also chronic nasal congestion went away with it.
As the front teeth came forwards in the face and tipped forwards, the gummy smile disappeared
I soon discovered that the reason for my gummy smile was that the front teeth were pushed back and tipped back from previous orthodontics, also during regular orthodontics the whole maxilla is known to drop down as well which contributes to the problem. It’s like the lips remain in its regular position still but since the teeth are now further back and down than nature intended the gums show during a smile. The ideal smile has the lips covering 1/4 of the teeth still. (or something similar to that, I forgot the exact ratio), so basically the gummy smile means, not the lips fault but the teeth aren’t high and forward enough to prevent the gums from showing.
Knowing all of this now, I feel sad when I see kids in braces that already have gummy smiles, their conditions are being made worse.
See what ortho’s stuck in the stone age have to realize is that patients come to your office not necessary for the straight teeth, but to have an attractive face. I read many troubled people’s comments online who have had years of orthodontics but when the braces came off they had self consciousness about their gummy smiles and one Dr. even had the nerve to tell the patient to practice smiling in the mirror to show less gums. What the hell is that? Smile is an spontaneous action not something you practice and reenact lol…
Impacting the Maxilla up and forwards
Another thing that happens with regular braces is that it somehow always increases facial height. (the face is getting longer)
Dr. Mike Mew gives following reason for this:
“The reason behind this is not immediately clear, however it does appear that conning, sore teeth, uncomfortable bites and the fact that extrusion is the easiest movement, are behind this.
1) Conning- is complex to explain but the idea is that as the teeth move around there is a reciprocal force over the periodontal membrane surrounding the tooth. The only area that this force is missing is through the vertical where the body of the tooth is. As the teeth are moved into position a very complex statistically indeterminate force system is set up where a row of teeth are connected by a flexible wire, the sum of these forces is an extrusion.
2) Sore teeth- the movement of teeth through bone is a chronic inflammatory process and it soon becomes uncomfortable to bite down on a tooth after braces are applied. This reduces the masticatory effort. We forget that our ancestors (who did not have malocclusion) have a significantly higher level level of masticatory effort; it was not uncommon to have worn the first molar crowns away completely by the middle of the 4th decade. This reduction is though to be a causative factor in the aetiology of malocclusion and directly linked to the increase in the vertical dimension. – This is encouraged by asking patients to eat a softer diet.
3) Uncomfortable bites- when ever the bite is disturbed its efficiency is reduced lowering the potential forces of mastication that are comfortable, thus reducing the forces of mastication.
4) Extrusion is the easiest movement and intrusion is the most difficult movement to make. Thus if a wire is place indiscriminately all the teeth will move closer to the height of the highest tooth in the bite rather than the lowest tooth in the bite.
All of these factors seem to be in play to increase the length of the face, and there seems to be a certain level of rebound growth, such as “late mandibular growth” is often seem after orthodontic therapy.”-Dr. Mike Mew
The following is very eye-opening and it holds keys to the issue at hand and the solutions.
“One reason why this has not been identified as a problems is that the normative data that is a foundation stone of modern orthodontics was taken in the middle of the last century. Malocclusion seems to have started about 10,000 years ago (for the earliest groups) and has progressively increased over this period with a substantial increase in the last 100 years, and be directly related to the standards of living. The validity of the assumption that individuals not showing malocclusion in the middle of the 20th century are ideal should questioned. A more rational assumption drawing on the skull shape of paleolithic or mesolithic man and progressing through to modern man would suggest that there has been a significant lengthening of the anterior facial skeleton over this period and the normative data that is commonly used represents an increase in the vertical. As such it is often considered that increasing the vertical is a desirable objective. In many or even most cases this “burning of the vertical” is thus not a concern for the profession.
However in a percentage of case, usually the most difficult ones, the vertical is greatly increased. In these cases a further increase in the vertical is more likely what ever therapy is placed and more undesirable. It is the ability of any orthodontist to treat these case and gain a stable result that is the test of their therapy.”-Dr. Mike Mew
Basically what he is saying is that the standard that orthodontists use to treat their patients is the skull of already less than ideal skull of modern man taken in the last century. But human being’s skulls began to stray from the ideal more than 10,000 years ago when we went from hunter gatherer to agricultural society, and has gotten substantially a lot worse in the last 100 years. What is happening to the skull from 10,000 years ago to skulls of today is that the skull is getting longer (maxilla is dropping down), crooked teeth is just a symptom of this main problem which is the face is getting longer.
As the face gets longer, the palate will get more narrow and shorter since there is only so much skull bone, all of the dimensions are getting robbed by this melting downward growth, which causes the crooked teeth. And orthodontists don’t see the underlying major issue behind crooked teeth which is the maxilla too far down in the face, because they are using data (skull measurements) that’s already in trouble and far from ideal.
Braces makes thing worse because…
braces seem to extrude teeth, (make the teeth come out of the gums more) could be due to exerting all that pressure to move the teeth, the teeth don’t just move sideways but as it moves sideways it’s being lodged out slightly. sort of like if you tie some rope to a tree trunk and attach it to a Truck and drive off, that sideways pressure will begin to pull the roots out.
And another factor being patients with braces may begin to engage their mastication less and less since they are encouraged to stick to soft foods, and traditional braces causes so much teeth soreness that they will often stick to soup days after their monthly appointments.
Why did the ancient man of 10,000 years ago have more ideal faces that were shorter and more forward? ample evidence suggests that they simply chewed way more than we do now and had way stronger jaw muscles. If you can picture your skull bones as sort of clay that is susceptible to be molded over time by your muscles than you can imagine how stronger muscles with hold that maxilla up and forward more versus weaker muscles will cause that face to drop down and elongate. This is why it makes sense that major change in diet that happened as a result of advent of agriculture which meant (cooked carbohydrate available to the mass population) a lot less chewing required. Will show its effects on the skulls.
If you have gummy smiles it could just be a symptom of a larger problem that is, your maxilla has dropped down and the reason for this could be that you have weak jaw muscles and the reason for the weak jaw muscles is because you are completely accustomed to the modern lifestyle of barely chewing at all anymore. Dr. Mike Mew suggests we do 5% of the chewing now of our ancestors.
Some signs that you may have weak jaw muscles
- you leave your mouth open during rest
- you drool during sleep
- you snore during sleep
- you stay away from tough foods
- you take in a lot of liquid calories (juices, smoothies,etc)
- you don’t ever chew gum
- you feel like your face is narrow, or long
- dark circles under eyes (may more to do with improper tongue posture, but jaw muscles contribute great to that problem as well)
- long nose, or roman nose
- crooked teeth / narrow palate
- small jaws
But I think the easiest ways to tell is that what is happening during sleep.or during unconscious moments (like deep into video game, etc) is your mouth coming open and teeth not in contact?
Because how strong your jaw muscle is, determines the resting posture of your jaws. Stronger jaw muscles will keep your jaws closed even when not paying attention. It’s like if you have strong jaw muscles it has not problem holding your lower jaw up, but if they are weak, it’s unable to curl that weight of lower jaw up at all. Kinda like a gym when doing bicep curls, a big difference once you’ve been training for several months to hold that barbell up versus as a newbie. I think naturally the jaw muscles want to remain in that closed position at rest, it just has to be strong enough to do so.
Once I started chew more and chew more and more gum to train the jaw muscles I saw a significant difference in my mouth posture, my jaws remain closed most of the time with teeth in contact versus before my teeth would come apart all the time at rest.
A lion’s face is beautiful to look at and you would never question if it developed with the right growth or not, or whether it has crooked teeth or not, it simply has a great looking face , you could say it is well developed (as nature intended), it’s face looks powerful. And that powerful look comes from those powerful looking jaws, you would never question that those jaws are powerful as shit, used to rip through the flesh of its prey. The Lion has to use those jaws to survive, and since the jaws are utilized the muscles develop accordingly and the jaw bones grows to its potential so that it can support the strenuous stress & workload of lions daily chewing.
It would follow that if the lion has such well developed jaws than the rest of the face has grown properly in relation, after all the jaws / mouth is the base of the face.
What would happen if a lion started to do only 5% of their chewing?
Inversely, what sort of face would humans have if we actually did 20x more chewing on a daily basis. Surely the muscles in the face would be a lot stronger and quite possible our jaws and face would look a lot different as well. It means that we would grow up with enough room for all our wisdom teeth and even space behind them… Would it create changes even in adults?
We want to reduce facial height, to intrude teeth and bring that whole maxilla up and forward in the face.. that is the goal anyway…
When teeth comes out of the gums we get facial lengthening, so we want to go the opposite direction which is to intrude the teeth. Most of us that had braces have our teeth extruded from the gums more than ideal.
“Intrusion of the whole dentition would be and is very difficult to achieve. “-Dr. Mike Mew
“The idea scenario would be the impaction of the whole upper maxilla, and if possible its forward movement. This would allow the mandible to auto-rotate forwards to meet the upper dentition in much the same way that it did before, with the net result that the face would move up and forwards- an anterior rotation.”
I think that the problem achieving this is that it is difficult to change at all. I can recognise many people by their posture, which means that this does not change much over time in a normal situation. It makes sense that people become accustomed to a particular muscle length or many be to a certain volume within the mouth”-Dr. Mike Mew
As I mentioned earlier when we advanced my front teeth up and forward and creating considerable forwarding tipping, I immediately developed an open bite. (my bottom front teeth and upper front teeth would not meet even if the mouth was closed) The degree of this open bite was reduced over time as my lower jaw came forward a bit and bottom teeth advanced forwards more but it still wasn’t enough to meet the upper teeth because the upper teeth had been tipped up and forwards. Keep in mind this was all done on purpose, actually the upper front teeth that have been tipped up and forward were now in more correct position, and it was this forward movement and tipping forwards & upwards that removed the gummy smile. My orthodontists plan was nearing the end of the treatment to put special type of wire in mouth that exert pressure downwards on the back teeth only to intrude the back teeth, and as the back teeth intrudes, the remaining open bite will close.
Well today I report that I no longer will have to do any of that anymore as my bite has closed naturally because I have naturally intruded my teeth by strengthening my jaw muscles and keeping teeth in contact more now than ever. Since I have learned that teeth will intrude into the gums if teeth is in contact more than 8 hours a day. So now I nearly have enough room for 4 bicuspid implants and the bite has closed, with front teeth that is more forward and (possibly) up in the face and no more gummy smile. A palate that is wider the tongue rests comfortably on the upper palate, still training and remembering to keep this correct posture and proper swallow pattern on a daily basis, it is consorted effort but I continue with good motivation because I continue to notice subtle improvements to the face.
My goal is to push the boundaries of what changes can be accomplished in adults by changing muscle tone and posture.
Gummy smiles in my case was produced by poor orthodontics that pulled my teeth back. The gummy smile was greatly reduced as I went through orthodontics a second time to expand my teeth forward and tipped upwards.
It is also possible for one to have gummy smiles because the maxilla has dropped down and back in the face (most likely because you were a mouth breather, or you have weak jaw muscles), so to reverse this would be to bring the maxilla up and forward in the face by developing closed mouth posture with tongue on the roof of mouth and jaws closed at rest. Jaw closed at rest comes with stronger muscle tone in the jaws.
The tongue’s correct position in the mouth is against the upper palate, this provides natural upwards and forward force on the maxilla. This is how natural beauty is regulated, by the tongue holding the maxilla up and forward in the face. also having strong jaw muscles will ensure that the jaws remain closed during rest and which aids the tongue in resting on the upper palate. In theory, this natural force of the tongue, over time, adds up to bring the maxilla up and forward in the face. This change is seen by orthotropics in children but also in adults by oral myologists (therapy to retrain the oral muscles). In adults, The drastic changes may take some time and exactly how long it will take is not quite known and there isn’t much testimonials out there because most adults don’t know the importance of this and habitual posture do not change without consorted effort from the individual and that effort can only come from putting high importance on this matter through understanding and knowledge.
“It is hard for an adults to change their posture, although situations such as strokes and neural damage are examples where this has occurred naturally- although negatively. It is difficult to explain simply where the changes would occur, this is the difference between and upswing and a downswing. Although an upswing(maxilla go up and forward in the face) would certainly reduce a gummy smile.” -Dr. Mike Mew
Consider that interesting experiment by Hohl where the monkey’s jaw muscles were re-attached and reconfigured differently via surgery as to make the jaw muscles stronger and the result was that the stronger jaw muscles had the effect of reducing the facial height and bringing the maxilla up and forward and the lower jaw to swing forwards, over time. Showing undoubtedly that muscles move bones. Again I believe this kind of change is also possible in adults where a man eating soft modern diet suddenly traveled back in time to hunter gatherer days and began eating nothing but tough diet, surely his face would remodel over time to handle all of the stress of hard chewing.