Can My Gummy Smile Be Improved By Shaving the Upper Jaw?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I have a gummy smile and spacing. Is it possible for the maxilla to be shaven flatter with the muscle lip lengthening?

A: I am afraid I do not know what you mean by having the ‘maxilla shaven flatter’. There is no such bony operation per se. In gummy smile surgery, there are two basic approaches, either bone-based or soft tissue reconstruction. The bony procedure is a maxillary or LeFort 1 osteotomy. This is where you cut the whole upper above the roots, remove bone above it and then reattach the maxilla up higher. This is known as vertical maxillary shortening or a maxillary impactionk operation. As the maxilla moves up higher, the teeth follow it, moving the excess gum show up under the lip.

You either do the bone operation or all three of the soft tissue procedures. It is all or none one way or the other. You can not intermingle the bone and soft tissue procedures in gummy smile correction.

Dr. Barry Eppley