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South African Dental Journal

On-line version ISSN 0375-1562
Print version ISSN 0011-8516


MASILANA, A; KHAMMISSA, RAG; LEMMER, J  and  FELLER, L. Oral medicine case book 66: Physiological/racial oral melanin hyperpigmentation. S. Afr. dent. j. [online]. 2015, vol.70, n.1, pp.28-29. ISSN 0375-1562.

Physiological/racial oral melanin hyperpigmentation is common, is seen more frequently in darker skinned persons and affects both males and females equally. It may involve any oral mucosal site, but particularly the gingiva, and usually develops during the first two or three decades of life, although many persons with this hyperpigmentation are unaware of its presence. Physiological/racial oral melanin hyperpigmentation is brought about by increased melanogenic activity of a normal number of melanocytes in the basal cell layer of the oral epithelium. However, the intracellular molecular mechanisms and the intercellular and other micro-environmental signalling pathways that mediate this development are unknown. Although no definitive relationship between oral mucosal melanoma and physiological/racial oral melanin hyperpig mentation has been demonstrated, and although in the vast majority of cases there should not be any cause for concern, nevertheless it has been observed that melanomas sometimes arise at sites of oral hyperpigmentations.

Keywords : melanocytes; melanosomes; melanin.

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