When an adult is toothless, it's generally due to advanced decay and periodontal disease, or an accident that has knocked out their teeth. However, it can be quite common for an adult to have a smile that displays a disproportionate amount of gum tissue. Many people aren't bothered by this, but if the amount of gum on display when you smile makes you uncomfortable, you have several options.

1. Dental Veneers

The key to addressing a gummy smile is to make your teeth look as though they're elongated, and there are a few ways to achieve this. Dental veneers are a popular option. These are customized wafer-thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded to your prominent teeth (which are generally your incisors and canines). These essentially lengthen your teeth, rebalancing the tooth-to-gum ratio of your smile. It's a minimally-invasive process, although a small amount of dental enamel is removed from each tooth to accommodate the veneers, otherwise, your teeth can become too bulky. 

2. A Gum Lift

Another way to decrease the amount of gum on display is with a gum lift (which is called a gingivectomy). The teeth themselves are unaffected, but a strategic amount of gum tissue is removed from the base of each tooth. This allows for more tooth surface to be displayed, with less gum tissue being visible because it has physically been removed. The amount of removed tissue is minimal, as removing too much can expose the tooth's root system, making it more susceptible to irritation and infection. Although the removed amount is subtle, the results will be noticeable. 

3. Botox

A third option is perhaps a surprising one. You might not think of your dentist as using Botox, but many dentists now offer injectables, and they can be offered as a solution for your gummy smile. The Botox is injected between your nose and upper lip. This has no tangible effect on your teeth, but it relaxes the upper lip so that its upward retraction when you smile will be less pronounced. This essentially hides your gummy smile. It's a temporary solution, and the Botox will need to be periodically reapplied. Still, it can be a good option if you're unsure about veneers or a gingivectomy, as it gives you a temporary preview of what these other permanent solutions can look like.

A gummy smile is still a beautiful smile, and adjusting the tooth-to-gum ratio is very much a personal decision. If you decide to proceed, you have a few viable options. For more information, contact a dentist.