The normal color of gingival is coral pink. However, gums sometimes present with dark black pigmentation. It might be patchy or uniform in distribution. This pigmentation varies within the same racial group and also within different regions in the mouth. It is more frequently observed in Asian, African, and Mediterranean populations, and has also been called racial or physiologic pigmentation
This hyper pigmentation is due to the deposition of a pigment called melanin. The lower layers of gums have a cell called melanocyte which produces melanin. An excessive production of melanin by melaocytes gets deposited in the gums and appear as dark pigment. Smoking is another potential cause of hyperpigmenatation since toxic agents in tobacco smoke induce melanocytes to produce melanin. The severity and extent of melanosis are usually correlated with the duration and the amount of smoking
Hyperpigmentated gums is not a medical problem in itself but patients normally present with the complaint that the gums looks black and are therefore unesthetic. The problem is further compounded if the patient has a gummy smile wherein there is excessive display of gums while smiling.
Today this hyper pigmentation of gums can be easily treated by periodontal plastic surgery procedures.
The procedure involves scarping of the superficial layers of the gums either surgically or by using dental laser. Laser depigmentation has become widely used recently and is even preferred over scalpel technique by many clinicians. The documented advantages of lasers in periodontal surgery include less bleeding , reduced postoperative pain and accelerated wound healing.