Quick question: what is more closely associated with your smile than your teeth? Your lips.
Aren’t convinced? Check out this Google Ngram graph, which shows how often words are used in a large selection of books in English. Notice how closely the lines for “smile” and “lips” track together. When Americans first became interested in smiles because of advertising around the turn of the 20th century, both lips and smiles increased in usage in an almost perfect mirror of one another. And see how the curves were virtually identical from the mid-1940s-70s, and even today they move largely parallel to one another?
So how do your lips affect your smile? Lots of ways, but today we are going to talk about your lip line.
The lip line is the line at which your lips lay over your teeth when you smile. Most people consider the most attractive lip line to be across the middle of your upper teeth for a moderate smile and at the top of your upper teeth for a broad smile. If your lip line is too high, you may feel you are showing off too much of your teeth and gums. If it’s too low, perhaps you’re not showing enough of your teeth.
You might be able to impact your smile line by changing your smile technique, but for most people, cosmetic dentistry offers a better option.
There are three basic smile techniques: commissure, cuspid, and complex. The commissure smile is the most common: it starts with the raising of the corners of your mouth, then leads to the lips parting. This smile tends to have the lowest lip line.
The cuspid smile starts with your lips raising over your teeth on either side of your nose, then the corners move up slightly. This style tends to have the highest lip line.
The complex smile begins with raising the corners of the mouth and the upper lip at the same time. It tends to have an intermediate lip line.
Some people claim that by practicing in front of a mirror, you can change your smile technique, while others believe that this is too involuntary an action to learn to do it differently. If you’re unhappy with your smile line, though, you can try to change it.
Another way to change your lip line is by changing your gum height. If your lip line doesn’t reach your gum line because of receding gums, some gum treatments can restore your healthy gum line to give you a more attractive smile.
On the other hand, if your gums are too large, they can be contoured slightly so less of them shows. Because gums are essential tissues to help protect and secure your teeth, we don’t want to do too much of this, but a little bit can make a big difference in some people.
Your teeth also contribute to where your lip line falls. With longer teeth, less of your gums will show when you smile. If your teeth are worn down because of a poor bite or just as a result of age, they can be built up again using porcelain veneers or dental crowns.
Long teeth can also be contoured to help move the lip line. Again, though, we don’t like to remove too much healthy tooth material, especially since the wear will do that for us in time.
Many people know exactly what they don’t like about their smile, such as their lip line. Others are unhappy with their smile but don’t know why. In either case, we can help you get a more attractive smile that you will be happy to share.