Don’t Hide Your Smile Because of Multifocal Pigmentation
Pigmentation in the gums and oral mucus membranes can be dark and make teeth look less white than you might like them to be. While dark pigmentation isn’t necessarily dangerous, many people would feel more comfortable if it weren’t there in the first place—but how? Laser treatment can reduce the visible appearance of gum and oral mucus membrane pigmentation, but it isn’t right for everyone and comes with a number of risks, not to mention high costs.
What is multifocal pigmentary odontia?
In a normal tooth, there is only one layer of enamel. Enamel contains minerals like calcium and phosphorus. A small number of people have more than one layer to their enamel, which is called multifocal pigmentary odontia (MPO). When it’s only in a single tooth, it’s called a hot spot. MPO can also be found in several teeth or on all teeth in a single patient.
What causes multifocal pigmentary odontia?
Many people with dark skin may be unhappy with their appearance because they feel that their teeth are too dark. Also known as racial pigmentation, dental pigmentation is caused by an increased production of melanin pigment by melanocytes in dark-skinned individuals. Darkly pigmented gums are also sometimes associated with certain ethnic groups, such as African Americans or Hispanics. Although cosmetic dentistry can help many patients achieve a bright and healthy smile, darker complexions do pose some unique challenges when it comes to whitening teeth.
What is racial pigmentation?
Darker skin tones aren’t just a cosmetic feature; they’re also your body’s way of protecting itself. Melanocytes in darker skin create melanin pigment—also known as racial pigmentation, also known as ethnic pigmentation, also known as multifocal pigmentation—to help block UV rays from penetrating into your dermis. They do a good job, too! Those with darkly pigmented skin (African-Americans and Hispanics primarily) have lower rates of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer than those with lighter complexions. Though many people are proud to be dark-skinned, others may feel that having darkly pigmented gums limits their self-confidence afforded by a bright white smile.
Should I Remove My Dark Gums?
In most cases, darkened gums are nothing to be concerned about. And if you do decide to use a bleaching treatment, keep in mind that it doesn’t come with guarantees. The increased production of melanin pigment by melanocytes in dark-skinned individuals is called physiologic pigmentation. It’s also known as racial pigmentation or ethnic pigmentation. This heightened level of melanin is different from sun damage and isn’t necessarily a bad thing—it’s just how your body responds to stimuli (or how you were born). Unfortunately, some people may see their darker gums as flaws that need fixing or think they look dirty, so they opt for cosmetic dental procedures like tooth bleaching or porcelain veneers to lighten their natural appearance.
Don’t hide your smile because of multifactoral pigmentation. Melanin pigment in skin is an indication that you produce a certain degree of melanin in your body. This is no cause for concern, but many people are self-conscious about their appearance, especially when it comes to smiles and photography. If you have darkly pigmented gums or oral mucus membranes, there are steps you can take to lighten your gums and improve your overall appearance. In any case, you should consult a dentist before attempting to lighten your gums using at-home remedies as they may not be appropriate for every person.
On The Spot Removal
One cause of multifocal pigmentation is an increased production of melanin pigment by melanocytes in dark-skinned individuals. Melanocytes are keratinocytes (cells in skin) that produce melatonin and tyrosinase. These two factors lead to an increase in melanin, which causes dark spots on your gum tissue. While you cannot remove these spots completely, you can lighten them with a few simple treatments from your dentist or a dermatologist. Two popular ways to do so include laser therapy and bleaching. If you’re currently hiding behind closed lips because of your dark spots, there are plenty of ways to eliminate them permanently if you catch it early enough!
If a patient is uncomfortable with their dark gums, there are procedures that can lighten or remove them. There are several different methods to choose from, but they generally fall into two categories: surgical and non-surgical. Surgical options include laser whitening and bleaching as well as dermabrasion (which uses an electric drill to buff away the outer layer of skin). Non-surgical options involve chemical treatments like hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide and lasers (either IPL or pulsed dye lasers) can reduce pigmentation for patients with gum discoloration that does not respond to conservative measures.
What is focal Melanotic Macule?
Though focal pigmented lesions can be a sign of serious disease, they are most commonly benign and harmless. Examples include Mongolian spots (birthmarks) or dark patches on skin caused by excessive sun exposure. Sometimes people who have been badly burned as children have darkly colored spots on their skin from scar tissue, a phenomenon called solar lentigines. People with darker skin tones tend to develop these more often than light-skinned individuals. If a focal melanotic macule is surrounded by normal-colored tissue, it’s likely just a birthmark or an area of discoloration from extreme sun exposure that poses no health threat and can be ignored or removed cosmetically, if desired.