The smile is part of a person’s facial expression, meaning that the different muscular movements of the face must be balanced.
As well as the look in their eyes, the lower third of the mouth is the main focal point of a person’s expression.
The smile can change horizontally, becoming wider or narrower, or vertically i.e. lower or higher depending on the amount of tooth shown when they smile. It can also be symmetrical or have different kinds of asymmetries.
There are several odontology treatments for dealing with the problems that affect the smile.
Horizontal variations in the smile
This was fashionable in the early 20th century. The false teeth made at that time were narrow, with a very closed arch.
Here, when smiling, the person shows very few teeth: only those at the front as far as the canine, and the first premolar.
This is the smile considered beautiful today. The person shows a great expanse of teeth, to the first molar. This is the smile of the actress Julia Roberts.
If this is the smile you would like to have, you must have been born with a big mouth; however, your aesthetic wishes can be taken into account when proceeding with dental treatments.
In orthodontics, the tendency is therefore to create a wide mouth, where we reveal a lot of tooth when smiling. Narrow palates are avoided or corrected, as are smiles where we can see black, toothless spaces at either side of the lips.
When the complete upper arch is being rehabilitated, or crowns are being placed on the front teeth, an effort is also made to achieve a broad smile.
European aesthetics tend to leave the smile as natural as possible, while in America people like to show a lot more of their teeth.
At our surgery we always make a series of aesthetic tests to obtain the smile best suited to the patient.
Vertical variations in the smile
Normal smile line
On smiling we show 75-100% of our top teeth and the gingival papilla, or in other words, the small triangles of gum between the teeth.
This is the most common type of smile and is found in the majority of the population, although with age, the muscles and skin of the face sag and the smile line drops so that, when talking, we will start to show more of our bottom teeth.
Low smile line
On smiling the person shows at least 75% of their upper teeth, but no gum. If the smile is very low, it can be corrected with aesthetic surgery, and sometimes with orthodontics. This kind of smile occurs in 20% of the population.
In the case of ceramic crowns on implants or directly on the teeth, a low smile line has the advantage of concealing the little defects which sometimes appear with time at the point where the ceramic crowns meet the gum. Similarly, in patients with retracted gums due to being smokers or to having gum disease, a low smile will hide the small dark spaces which appear between the teeth.
High smile line or gummy smile
On smiling, the patient shows the full length of their teeth, and a great deal of gum. This occurs in 1% of the population. With age they tend to show less gum. This problem can be corrected with lip surgery, by disinserting the muscle and pulling it downwards.
Another way to correct the problem is by means of maxillo-facial surgery to reduce the height of the gum and of the underlying jawbone, combined with orthodontics to move the top teeth upwards.
In these cases, your teeth and gums must look very good and have any defects well concealed.
Smile aesthetics are essential in all oral treatment.