Dark, splotchy gums.
Dark Gums Are NOT A Cause For Alarm
If you have them, there’s no need for worry… they do not mean you have some sort of disease or dysfunction of your gums. They are due to a build up of excess melanin in the gums which makes them look brown or black instead of pink.
Causes of Dark or Splotchy Gums
There are a few causes of this excess melanin.
The most common reason is genetics. It’s a condition that is more common in certain ethnic groups, commonly those with Middle Eastern or African ancestry.
Smoking or the use of chewing tobacco is another common reason for dark and/or splotchy gums. Also, some medications may change your oral tissue and cause your gums to darken over time.
One other cause of discolored gums is poor dental hygiene. If you’ve had a long history of taking poor care of your mouth and gums, it can affect the color of your gums. If you’ve had issues with red, inflamed gums (gingivitis) your gums could become permanently discolored due to past infections or scarring.
The Gum Depigmentation Procedure
Gum Depigmentation, also called Gum Bleaching, is the procedure used to lighten dark gums and turn them into healthy looking pink gums. Anyone who has healthy gums can be considered a good candidate for this procedure. The gum depigmentation process involves the use of a laser which reacts with the water in your gums that lightens and evens out the color. The laser vaporizes and removes the thin top layer of your gum tissue. This destroys the melanin producing cells and, as you heal, the new tissue that’s created tends to be pink instead of black or brown.
Safe and Effective
This laser treatment is a highly effective and safe way to alter the melanin pigmentation in your gums and produce the desired look of pink gums. It may sound painful to zap your gums with a laser but the treatment is actually relatively painless. If you have very sensitive gums, you may experience some discomfort for a short time period. Most patients, however, will experience only minor discomfort and only topical anesthesia may be needed.
The gum depigmentation procedure is usually knocked out in just 1 visit to the dentist and takes between 20 – 45 minutes, depending on the color and size of the dark patches. While full healing may take up to 2 weeks, you will be immediately be able to speak and eat as normal after the treatment. Most patients can return to work the same day (though if you want to take the rest of the day off, we won’t tell!).
A Permanent Fix?
Gum depigmentation treatment is typically a permanent fix for dark gums. Depending on who you ask, results can last 20 years or up to a lifetime. There are some exceptions, however. If your dark gums were caused by smoking, chewing tobacco or medication, continued use can cause your gums to darken again at some point in the future. If that happens, you can treat your gums again with laser gum depigmentation.
As with all cosmetic treatments, cost for a gum depigmentation varies widely by region as well as how big an area is being treated. That said, look for costs to be in the $500 – $900 per arch range.