You don’t know when or how they got there but you’ve begun to notice (and maybe dislike) the blotchy, purple spots on your gums. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. We get a lot of patients calling our office asking us about spots on their gums. Because gum discoloration isn’t really something dentists or doctors talk about very often, not many people truly understand what the spots are or why they have them. They call this discoloration all sorts of things: purple gums, dark gums, “peeling” gums, and brown gums are just a few.
In reality, blotchy spots on the gums are simply caused by melanin build-up and are completely harmless. Still, quite a few people don’t care for how the spots can make their smile appear asymmetrical. See, the pigmentation on the gums is very rarely uniform. This means the person’s smile appears uneven — even if the teeth are perfectly straight. People who have “gummy” smiles, where a significant portion of the gums are visible when smiling, tend to make up a large percentage of our patient base purely because their gums impact the appearance of their smile more.
It’s important to remember that, when talking about gum pigmentation, everything is cosmetic. Dark spots on the gums are not going to cause any health concerns. However, if you don’t like the way your gums are affecting your smile, we’ve got a solution.
Up until a few years ago, there weren’t many methods for safe gum pigmentation removal. Some doctors tried using lasers to burn away the pigmentation or knives to cut out the pigmented tissue. Neither of these methods were comfortable for the patient, nor did they provide long lasting results. Within a year or two, the pigmentation would always return.
We had a patient come in who was desperate for a real way to permanently remove the spots on her gums. With this as our motivation, we got to work, trying to find a safe and simple way to remove gum pigmentation. We found our solution in radio waves. Unlike other methods, radio waves are able to remove not just the melanin in the gums but also the melanocytes — the cells that create the melanin. By removing both, we are able to give patients symmetrical, pink gums that stay that way for, in most cases, a lifetime. We called this process Britegums.
We use an FDA approved electrosurgery device to emit the radio waves. The device uses a special brush head to emit the waves and help loosen and remove the pigmented gum tissue. The procedure can be uncomfortable for patients since the mouth is a sensitive area. We provide a local anesthetic for Britegums though, if you’re suffering from dental anxiety, we can use IV or inhalation sedation to make it even easier on you.
It typically takes about seven days for the full results from the procedure to be visible. Patients heal completely two to three weeks post-surgery.
Compared to most of the procedures we do at Stanley Dentistry (like dental implant surgery or crown lengthening), Britegums is incredibly non-invasive. There is zero bleeding since the radio waves stop any bleeding before it starts. For the doctor, the procedure is very easy and straight-forward. Most patients are in and out of the office within an hour.
You may experience some mild discomfort after your appointment as your gums heal. We recommend using Tylenol or Advil to help with that.
There are a few things we look for in a good Britegums candidate. The first thing is dental health. Before you get any kind of cosmetic procedure done, your dentist will want to make sure you don’t have any signs of tooth decay or periodontal disease (gum disease). If you do have periodontal disease and you need a gum graft, we’ll do that first and allow it to heal before moving on to the Britegums treatment.
The second thing we look for is melanin-based pigmentation. For most people, this pigmentation is genetic but in rare cases, we have had patients with smoker’s melanosis come in to get Britegums. We can use Britegums to treat smoker’s melanosis but we cannot use Britegums on patient’s suffering from Leukoplakia or any other ailment that causes gray or pale gums.
While we’re working on getting a few more Britegums offices in other states and countries, right now have one location in Cary, North Carolina. Many of our patients live hundreds of miles away from North Carolina which is why we offer complimentary virtual consultations. With the virtual consultation, we’ll take a look at your gums and see if Britegums is the right course of treatment for you. If it is, we’ll encourage you to book a flight to RDU which is just down the street from our office.
We hope to see you soon!