What Is Laser Gum Depigmentation
Just as with skin tones, genetics is the most common reason for darker pigmentation of the gums (i.e., gingival tissue); therefore, certain ethnic groups are more likely to experience darker gum pigmentation than others. While extra pigment in the gums is not indicative of any dysfunction or disease, individuals frequently seek treatment for aesthetic reasons.
A Minimally-Invasive, Economical Solution for Dark Gums: Laser Depigmentation
Previously, options for removing excess pigmentation were pricey, had considerably long recovery times and were rather invasive; however, technological advancements within the dental industry have led to a minimally-invasive, less-expensive alternative treatment, laser gum depigmentation. Dr. William P. Lamas offers this revolutionary treatment at his office in Miami.
Melanin is produced by a group of cells called melanocytes. Melanin is present in individuals with fair skin as well as those with darker skin; however, it is the form of melanin an individual has that determines his or her skin and gum color. There are two forms of melanin: pheomelanin and eumelanin. Eumelanin offers primarily black and brown hues; whereas, pheomelanin appears as yellow and red.
Excess Melanin Production Leads to Darker Gums
Individuals of Middle Eastern or African descent have the eumelanin form of melanin. These individuals are more likely to have areas where excess melanin builds up in their gums than those who have the pheomelanin form of melanin.
Irritants can cause an increase in melanin production: For example, smoking can irritate the gums, leading to a higher production of melanin that results in darker pigmented gingival tissue. Furthermore, certain medications (e.g., minocycline and antimalarial) as well as endocrine disorders like Addison’s disease (which causes darkening of the skin) can lead to an increase in melanin production.
Other Reasons a Patient’s Gums May Become Dark
Serious forms of gum disease like acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (i.e., trench mouth) can cause darkened gums.
Sometimes, a darker pigmented area has nothing to do with melanin but is caused by an outside factor: One such factor is referred to as an amalgam tattoo. Amalgam is a group of metals that are mixed together to make crowns and fillings. If any particles become dislodged, they may be visible beneath the skin of the gum; thus, creating the amalgam tattoo. While an amalgam tattoo may appear anywhere inside the mouth, this grey, black or blue patch usually appears right next to a filling.
How Dr. Lamas Addresses Darkened Gums
Dr. William P. Lamas will determine the best way to initially deal with a patient’s darkened gums by finding out why the gums are creating excess melanin:
- If a medication is causing the issue, Dr. Lamas will recommend that the patient look into changing to a different medication that does not have this particular side effect.
- If the patient smokes and his or her gums are darkened due to exposure to tobacco, this is referred to as smoker’s melanosis. Smoker’s melanosis typically occurs in those who have lighter complexions. Once the individual stops smoking, his or her gingival tissue will revert back to its original color; therefore, in a case such as this, Dr. William P. Lamas recommends that his patient explore the various options available to help him or her stop smoking.
- If gum disease is the problem, Dr. Lamas may use antibiotics and remove damaged gum tissue.
Once the cause of the darkened gums is determined and addressed, if necessary, laser gum depigmentation may be used to restore the gums to a more uniform, healthy-looking pink color.
Laser Gum Depigmentation with Dr. William P. Lamas
Laser gum depigmentation may also be referred to as gum bleaching; however, this procedure does not involve the use of bleach. To ensure that his patients remain comfortable throughout their procedure, Dr. Lamas uses a local anesthetic in the areas that he will be treating. During this procedure, Dr. Lamas uses a state-of-the-art precision laser to address darkened areas of the gum. A laser gum depigmentation procedure at Lamas Dental Specialists usually takes from 20 to 45 minutes and the results achieved can last a lifetime.
How Does Laser Gum Depigmentation Work?
Laser gum depigmentation can be compared to laser skin resurfacing in that the top layer of cells is destroyed. With gum depigmentation, when the top layer of cells is destroyed, so is the excess pigmentation that has accumulated. The new tissue that the body creates as it heals tends to be pink as opposed to black or brown.
What is Recovery Like?
Most patients experience minimal discomfort following their procedure and can speak, eat, and drink directly following their treatment. Laser gum depigmentation requires no lengthy recovery period: Healing is complete within 2 weeks’ time. Many of Dr. Lamas’ patients only need a single treatment to attain the results they desire.
What if I Need Multiple Laser Gum Depigmentation Treatments?
If multiple treatments are necessary to achieve the look an individual desires, Dr. William P. Lamas will discuss his recommendations at the patient’s follow-up visit.
Can I Smoke After My Laser Gum Depigmentation Treatment at Lamas Dental Specialists?
Ideally, Dr. Lamas prefers that his patients stop smoking completely prior to their procedure, especially since tobacco is one of the known causes of gum darkening. Nevertheless, for those patients who are having difficulty accomplishing this, he recommends that they refrain from smoking for at least a week after their laser gum depigmentation treatment.
Is There Anyone Who is Not a Good Candidate for Laser Gum Depigmentation?
Yes, individuals who have dark gums due to periodontal disease are not good candidates for this treatment because this darkening is not a surface problem. Patients taking blood thinners may not be good candidates because excessive bleeding can occur during treatment. Patients who have prominent tooth roots or thin gums are not good candidates because removing a layer of gum could expose the roots more, leading to an ongoing sensitivity.
If you are concerned with the way your gums look, contact Lamas Dental Specialists in Miami today at (305) 440-4114 to request your complimentary consultation with Dr. William P. Lamas. As an experienced periodontist, he can help determine why your gingival tissue is darkening and then outline a personalized treatment plan to address the problem.