What is Gum Depigmentation?

Your gums are an integral part of the aesthetics of your smile. While variances in the color and pigmentation of your gums are natural and normal, some people might struggle with stains or coloring of their gums making them self-conscious. If this is you, read on and discover the options that you have for your particular case and your smile.

Despite the complicated name, melanoplasty (gingival whitening or gum depigmentation) is a technique widely used in dentistry for gingival whitening, that is, to remove dark pigments from the gums and, consequently, change the aesthetics of your gums and your whole smile, if you desire.

Why do gums turn dark?

Changes in gingival coloration (stains) may occur due to melanin pigmentation and natural pigmentation. Certain people from certain racial backgrounds or areas of the world can have pigmentation that is naturally dark or has darker spots. People who smoke can also have stains on their gums. Pigmented lesions of the oral cavity are not frequent, and their origin can be endogenous (internal factors) or exogenous (external factors).

Melanin appears through brown or black spots, much darker than the normal pink color. To remove stains and color spots, the procedure reconstitutes and remodels the contours of the gum above and between the teeth to depigment the buccal mucosa.

Gum Depigmentation

Gum depigmentation is effective in removing dark spots and restoring a more natural pink color. It is done at the dentist’s office with a trained dentist and is done both in regular dental offices as well as cosmetic dental offices.

What is the treatment for gum whitening?

Teeth whitening uses whitening chemicals, whereas gum whitening involves scraping or removing the pigmented layer. By means of an appropriate technique, the layer containing the stains on the gum is scraped off, as if it were a gingival peeling. In all procedures, the patient receives local anesthesia, the dentist uses special tools to remove the pigmented layer of gum tissue, and surgical glue or other wound treating material can be used afterwards as a protection for the surgical wound in the spots that had the procedure.

The procedure is relatively quick and generally painless during the procedure, due to the use of anesthesia. In some cases, there may also be postoperative discomfort, but this is uncommon. Another option for gum depigmentation is gingival peeling, which uses diamond tips (on a drill with a little motor) to perform a slight desquamation of the gingival tissue. In this technique, there is no need for anesthesia and cement, but it is not permanent, and the melanin can return.

What are the precautions after gum whitening surgery?

Right after the procedure, the dentist makes recommendations regarding medication (when necessary), oral hygiene and food, usually to avoid ingesting foods with the potential to cause irritation, such as acidic, very salty, or spicy foods. In most cases, the patient recovers well and without pain.

In the few days directly following a gum depigmentation procedure, the gums already are more uniform in color, and in 1 week the gums reach an advanced state of healing. As with any treatment, the dentist must indicate which is the best option for their patient with regards to gum depigmentation, taking into account their patient’s expectations and possible results given their issue and biology. In addition, each case is specific and only an individual assessment can determine the procedure that will be done.

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