Achieving Dental Excellence…With A Holistic Touch
Gum disease, or Periodontitis, is a common dental problem effecting over 60% of adults. It is responsible for the decay of gums and teeth, including tooth loss. Common symptoms include red, swollen, irritable gums that bleed easily during brushing and flossing, as well as bad breath and loose teeth.
There are surgical or non-surgical treatment options for gum disease.
- Surgical treatment consists of removing the compromised tissue via gingivectomy or periodontal (gum) surgery.
- Non-surgical treatment uses Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy along with root planing, and /or Arestin (a time-release antibiotic).
For more information about gum disease, please see our Periodontics page under General Dentistry.
Although dark gums may be healthy, some patients find them unattractive and seek measures to lighten them. This cosmetic procedure goes under several names, including dark gum treatment, gum bleaching, gum depigmentation and other variations on the name. The gum bleaching treatment is considered aesthetic because patients who elect to have the dark gums procedure done wish to improve the appearance of their smiles.
What causes dark gums?
Dark gums are caused by hyperpigmentation, a darkening of an area of skin caused by melanin. Melanin pigmentation can often be attributed to genetics, and people with darker skin tones and particularly of Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean or African decent are more prone to hyperpigmentation. Dark gums can affect people of all races and ethnicities genetically, but there are other causes of dark gums that can be cited.
Poor dental hygiene can result in bacteria buildup on your teeth and gums. This can eventually result in the development of gum disease, which in turn can affect gum pigmentation. Smoking can also be a major contributing factor to gum hyperpigmentation, and studies have shown that smokers are more at risk for these issues. Other factors that may contribute to dark gums include certain medications such as minocycline (a periodontal infection treatment), salicylic acid, metal-based crowns and restorations, and some systemic diseases.
How does gum bleaching treatment work?
The most modern approach to cosmetic gum bleaching involves the use of a dental laser to remove the dark pigmentation on the gums. Although many dentists who perform this procedure may use surgical procedures, the modern approach is the Waterlase MD Laser. The Waterlase Laser is minimally invasive, avoids the stress of needles and allows patients to receive the dark gums treatment painlessly and safely to remove discoloration on their gums. This soft tissue laser is also used to treat gum disease and has various other applications.
Candidacy and other FAQs
Patients who are interested in this cosmetic dentistry procedure should already have healthy gums and practice good oral hygiene. If your gums are swollen or inflamed due to gum disease, your dentist will have to address these issues before the dark gum treatment can begin.
How long does the treatment take?
The dark gums treatment can be completed in one office visit. A patient with dark gums can leave our Beverly Hills office with pink gums.
Is the procedure invasive?
If your dentist uses a laser, surgery should not be required nor will extensive sedation.
How long does the gum depigmentation treatment last?
One gum depigmentation treatment can last from 20 years up to a lifetime.
What is the healing process like?
Patients who are treated with a dental laser can expect minor discomfort and no complications after the treatment. Patients with very sensitive gums may experience some discomfort for a short period of time. Patients can expect to be able to speak and eat normally immediately after the treatment is completed.
What is the cost of a gum bleaching treatment?
The cost of the cosmetic gum bleaching treatment will vary depending on the degree, depth and location of the discoloration. Each patient will have to be analyzed individually to determine how much treatment they require and how much they can expect to pay for gum bleaching.
Gum Grafts vs. Bonding
A common question without a common answer is how to treat gum recession. There are two choices to repair receding gums beyond good oral hygiene and routine cleanings. Those dentists who bond teeth tend to lean toward bonding. Those who prefer grafting tend to graft the gums.
Tooth bonding is the application of a tooth-colored resin material using adhesives and a high-intensity curing light. The procedure gets its name because materials are bonded to the tooth. Bonding can be used to address the appearance of recession.
Bonding can also be used to restore fractured or eroded enamel at the gum and tooth junction. Fractured enamel can occur through secondary occlusal traumatism, which means the upper and lower teeth aren’t meeting the right way. Orthodontics (braces) may be prescribed along with bonding therapy.
Eroded/abraded enamel could occur through exposure to acids in our diet or excessive pressure while brushing our teeth.
- Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery. During this procedure, the gums are lifted back, and the tarter is removed. In some cases, irregular surfaces of the damaged bone are smoothed to limit areas where disease-causing bacteria can hide. The gums are then placed so that the tissue fits snugly around the tooth. This method reduces the size of the space between the gum and tooth, thereby decreasing the areas where harmful bacteria can grow and the chance of severe health problems associated with periodontal disease.
- Bone grafts. This procedure involves using fragments of your own bone, synthetic bone or donated bone to replace bone destroyed by gum disease. The grafts serve as a platform for the regrowth of bone, which restores stability to teeth. New technology, called tissue engineering, encourages your own body to regenerate bone and tissue at an accelerated rate.
- Soft tissue grafts. This procedure reinforces thin gums or fills in places where gums have receded. Grafted tissue, most often taken from the roof of the mouth, is stitched in place, adding tissue to the affected area.
- Guided tissue regeneration. Performed when the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed, this procedure stimulates bone and gum tissue growth. Done in combination with flap surgery, a small piece of mesh-like fabric is inserted between the bone and gum tissue. This keeps the gum tissue from growing into the area where the bone should be, allowing the bone and connective tissue to regrow to better support the teeth.
- Bone surgery. This procedure smoothes shallow craters in the bone due to moderate and advanced bone loss. Following flap surgery, the bone around the tooth is reshaped to decrease the craters. This makes it harder for bacteria to collect and grow.
Surgery is needed when the tissue around the teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with bonding. Bonding is used when the tissue around the tooth is healthy and the enamel is either fractured or eroded.
Which treatment is right for you? Dr. Boyajian has extensive training and experience with all of these treatments and is highly qualified to determine the best treatment for you.
We invite you to call today to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Boyajian, one of Beverly Hills’ premier cosmetic, general and holistic dentists. It would be our pleasure to serve you.