Ethnic pigmentation, also known as skin tone, has nothing to do with your actual skin. It’s a type of pigmentation called melanin, which is produced by cells in the epidermis called melanocytes. This coloring allows your skin to protect itself from UV rays and harmful radiation from the sun’s rays (called UVA and UVB). As an evolutionary adaptation, darker-skinned people tend to live in areas with less sun — think Africa, Asia, and South America — whereas pale-skinned people are more common closer to the equator or in more northern latitudes.
The Problem with Gum Bleaching:
Dentists in the past would try to bleach ethnic pigmentation by burning away an entire layer of gum tissue. The problem with this is that not only is it painful, but it’s also unsightly and can take a while to heal. Dentists in the modern day have found a more effective way to lighten up gum pigmentation without any scarring or pain — laser treatment. Lasers are used to break down pigment cells without damaging underlying tissues, which means less discomfort for you!
Melanocytes and Melanin:
Pigment production is something our bodies do naturally to protect us from the sun. Melanocytes produce melanin, which is a pigment that absorbs UV radiation from the sun. The darker your skin, the more pigment you have in order to protect you from UV rays. When it comes to ethnic pigmentation, those with darker skin tones are always at higher risk because they produce more melanin. This creates an increased chance of developing skin cancer or hyperpigmentation (where there is too much pigment).
So what does this have to do with gum bleaching? Well, when dentists would use lasers on patients’ gums in an attempt to lighten their teeth and remove any pigmentation they would also be removing any protection those gums had against UV radiation.
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The Painful Reality of Gum Bleaching:
Gum bleaching is how dentists would try to remove gum pigmentation in the past — the keyword there being tried. Using painful lasers, dentists would literally burn away an entire layer of the gum tissue in the hopes of getting rid of the melanocytes (which produce pigment-causing melanin).
However, studies have shown that this can be very damaging to your oral health, so it’s better to find other ways to deal with pigmented gums. One way is by using laser therapy which targets only problem spots, and because you’re not burning away an entire layer at a time, it can actually help reduce gum inflammation over time. Another way you could get that desired look is by using teeth whitening strips or even a bleach pen.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Bleaching your teeth is not the only option. Ethnic pigmentation can be a cosmetic concern for many people, but it’s especially noticeable in darker skin tones where a dark line of gum tissue will show up between teeth when smiling.
● The easiest way to eliminate this issue is with dental veneers which are custom-made caps that fit over the front surface of your tooth to change its color. This procedure has become more popular in recent years because it’s quick, painless, and affordable.