Almost anyone can have the perfect smile they dream about. But there is a great deal more to the perfect smile than white teeth. Most people who look at a smile will look at the color and the alignment of the top and bottom teeth and notice whether teeth are crooked. A filling or a crown that doesn’t match natural tooth structure may also be noticed. But the teeth are only one of three equally important components of a perfect smile. The human mouth is a stage and is framed by the lips and the soft tissue (gums) that surround the teeth. If either of these deviates from the accepted norm, even if the teeth are straight and white, the smile may appear to be unsightly.

Your lips frame your gums and teeth. There is not much a dentist can do about the muscles and attachments of the lips. But the lips have a dominant role in your perfect smile. The lip line is divided into three types – low, medium, and high.

  • A low lip line means you show little or no tooth structure when you talk or smile
  • A medium lip line is one where the whole tooth shows when talking or smiling
  • A high lip line is one where all of the front teeth and gum tissue above the top front teeth are visible

A medium lip line, coupled with dominant front teeth, is considered as being the most desirable type of smile.

The gum tissue surrounds the teeth. The gum tissue should fill in the space between teeth that touch so that all you see is gums and teeth – no spaces. Where the tooth appears to come out of the gum, the gum should have a scalloped (wave-like) look. Usually, the gum tissue is higher around the eyeteeth than the front two teeth. The left and right sides should be a mirror image of each other. This scalloping should follow the upper lip line. Correct appearance here is of primary importance in developing a perfect smile. If the height of the gum is too low or too high around a specific tooth or several teeth, even if the teeth are straight, they will look “wrong.” Gum position defects can be (and should be) corrected before any major front tooth restoration. Treatment may be minimal or major, depending on the number of teeth and type of problem present.

The teeth themselves should generally follow the lip line from left to right. They should be proportional to each other and themselves. If individual teeth are too long, wide, not in proportion to each other, or not mirror images left to right, esthetic problems result. We can recognize these problems and offer suggestions for improved esthetics. You may look and not know what is wrong with your smile, but you know that you do not have the smile you want. It may not be the teeth alone. The framing of the teeth by your lips and the architecture and position of the gums surrounding your teeth are two variables in a three-part equation for YOUR perfect smile

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