Gum depigmentation, also known as gum bleaching, is a procedure used in cosmetic dentistry to lighten or remove black spots or patches on the gums consisting of melanin.
Melanocytes are cells which reside in the basal layer of the gingival epithelium. These cells produce melanin, which are pigments that cause light or dark brown spots in gums and oral mucosa. The most common cause is genetic factors or tobacco smoking, Smoker's melanosis. If the melanin pigmentation is found in a person smoking cigarettes, the most effective way to get rid of the pigmentation is to stop smoking. Most of the patients are free from the melanin pigmentation after 3 months. A dental laser can target and ablate the melanocytes, thus reducing the production of melanin in the gingival tissue. Following laser depigmentation, the gingiva heals by secondary intention. This results in a lighter and more uniform color of the gums. A study found that laser was effective and there were no signs of re-pigmentation after a 6 month follow up period