Sometimes we see patients of African or Middle Eastern descent whose gums are healthy but appear to contain dark blotches. Normally, these darker spots are only of cosmetic concern and do not indicate any medical issue. These patients are interested in obtaining more even-looking gums that they feel may better showcase their teeth and not detract from their smiles.
Gum hyperpigmentation, also known as gingival hyperpigmentation, are the brown or black splotches caused by excess melanin, the same pigmentation found in our hair and skin. Some people have a higher concentration of melanin than others in their otherwise healthy gums. This makes the gums appear brown or black in some areas instead of pink.
Gum DEpigmentation: The Laser Solution
We can address gum hyperpigmentation with a cosmetic laser procedure called gum depigmentation. Using local anesthesia, we use a gentle laser to remove the thin outer layers of darker gum tissue. The laser destroys the specific cells that produce melanin, the skin pigmentation that causes the darker-looking areas.
Many patients don’t realize that this relatively simple laser procedure is available. Some patients, when they discover the procedure, opt for treatment of the upper gum area only since that’s most noticeable when we smile.
The process is a low-stress, quick way of providing long-term, dramatic results. We note that gum depigmentation is NOT meant for patients with darker gums caused by gum disease or other oral disease.
Laser “Tattoo” Removal
This procedure can also be used for removing dark discoloration of the gum caused by amalgam (silver) fillings. Historically, some surgical procedures used this material to re-seal failing root canals or perforations in teeth. This often left ugly blue-black scars and tattoos in the gum. Laser treatment as well as surgical debridement can reduce and sometimes eliminate these discolorations, although multiple procedures may be needed.
Contact Us Today
At the South Florida Center for Periodontics & Implant Dentistry, we are continually staying ahead of the curve to provide cutting-edge technologies like laser gum depigmentation. We can often transform smiles in just one visit for results that can last a lifetime.