Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology
Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology
Home | About JISP | Search | Accepted articles | Online Early | Current Issue | Archives | Instructions | SubmissionSubscribeLogin 
Users Online: 1367  Home Print this page Email this page Small font size Default font size Increase font sizeWide layoutNarrow layoutFull screen layout

   Table of Contents    
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 657-660  

An unusual clinical presentation of gingival melanoacanthoma

Department of Periodontics, Mahatma Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Dental Sciences, Government of Puducherry Institution, Pondicherry, India

Date of Submission13-Jun-2012
Date of Acceptance29-Jul-2013
Date of Web Publication4-Oct-2013

Correspondence Address:
S Agila
Department of Periodontics, Mahatma Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Dental Sciences, Indira Nagar, Gorimedu, Pondicherry - 605 006
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-124X.119288

Rights and Permissions

Gingival melanoacanthoma is a rare, benign pigmented lesion characterized clinically by sudden onset and rapid growth of a macular brown black lesion and histologically by acanthosis of superficial epithelium and proliferation of dendritic melanocytes. This article reports a previously undescribed case of pigmented unilateral diffuse gingival enlargement, which on histopathological examination proved to be melanoacanthoma. Intraoral examination revealed pigmented unilateral diffuse gingival enlargement in relation to second and third quadrants buccally, palatally/lingually. Based on these clinical findings, gingivectomy was performed and the excised tissue was sent for biopsy. Microscopic examination revealed acanthotic and parakeratotic surface epithelium with dendritic melanocytes distributed in basal and suprabasal layers of the epithelium. 1 year follow-up recall revealed no recurrence of lesion at the surgical sites. Our patient exhibits an unusual clinical presentation of melanoacanthoma of gingiva. Pigmented gingival overgrowth of recent origin and without any etiologic factors warrants histopathologic examination.

Keywords: Gingival enlargement, gingivectomy, melanoacanthoma

How to cite this article:
Babu SK, Agila S, Sivaranjani P, Kashyap V. An unusual clinical presentation of gingival melanoacanthoma. J Indian Soc Periodontol 2013;17:657-60

How to cite this URL:
Babu SK, Agila S, Sivaranjani P, Kashyap V. An unusual clinical presentation of gingival melanoacanthoma. J Indian Soc Periodontol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Sep 20];17:657-60. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Gelanoacanthoma is a benign and uncommon pigmented mucocutaneous lesion characterized by dendritic melanocytes dispersed throughout the epithelium. [1] Goode et al. published the first retrospective review of 10 cases of oral melanoacanthoma reported in the literature in 1983. [2] Oral melanoacanthoma usually occurs on the buccal mucosa (51.4%), with fewer lesions originating on the palate (22.2%), lips (15.2%) and gingiva (5.6%). [3]

Oral melanoacanthoma is seen almost exclusively in blacks, shows a female predilection and is most common during the third and fourth decade of life. The lesion is smooth, flat or slightly raised, dark brown to black in color. Lesions often demonstrate a rapid increase in size and they occasionally reach a diameter of several centimeters within a period of few week, potentially masquerading as a melanoma. [4]

To the best of our ability, a comprehensive review of literature on gingival melanoacanthoma revealed 12 cases mostly involving singular lesions [Table 1]. Herein, we present an unusual case report of gingival melanoacanthoma, which presented clinically as pigmented unilateral gingival enlargement.
Table 1: Reported cases of gingival melanoacanthomas

Click here to view

   Case Report Top

Clinical findings

A 13-year-old male patient attended the Department of Periodontics, Mahatma Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Dental Sciences, Pondicherry, in May 2011 for gingival enlargement and difficulty in mastication. The patient was otherwise healthy. He first noticed enlargement 6 months earlier along the buccal aspect of tooth 26, which increased in size slowly to the present clinical picture. The clinical examination was significant for the presence of pigmented diffuse gingival enlargement along buccal and palatal aspects of 24, 25, 26, 27 and lingual aspects of teeth 34, 35, 36, 37 [Figure 1]. Gingival enlargement was extending up to middle third of the crown of tooth 24, partially covering the occlusal surface of teeth 25, 26 and completely covering the tooth 27 [Figure 2] and extending up to occlusal surface of teeth 34, 35, 36, 37. The gingival enlargement was firm in consistency, painless, brownish black in color with well-defined borders and there was no associated erythematous background.
Figure 1: Melanoacanthoma on the maxillary posterior gingiva

Click here to view
Figure 2: Melanoacanthoma on the occlusal surface of 26, 27

Click here to view

Other significant dental findings included root canal treated fractured tooth 21 and congenitally missing tooth 23. Patient's oral hygiene was deemed satisfactory. There was no significant medical history. Patient was not having any associated cutaneous pigmentary changes. Based on the clinical findings, provisional diagnosis of idiopathic gingival enlargement was made and gingivectomy was planned for the treatment.

Treatment and follow-up

Patients' parents provided oral consent for treatment prior to the initial and additional tests and the dental treatment that followed. Routine blood investigations were found to be within normal limits. Gingivectomy was performed under local anesthesia on the buccal aspect of II quadrant [Figure 3] and the excised tissue was sent for biopsy [Figure 4]. One week later, gingivectomy was performed on the palatal aspect of II quadrant followed by lingual aspect of III quadrant after 1 week. Kirkland knives were used for incisions on the facial and lingual surfaces. Orban periodontal knives were used for interdental incisions. Patient experienced an uneventful post-operative recovery [Figure 5] at 1 year recall examination there was no recurrence of gingival enlargement at the surgical sites [Figure 6]. Patient will continue to be monitored on a 6 month basis and any new gingival enlargement/lesion will undergo histopathologic investigation.
Figure 3: Gingivectomy carried out in II quadrant - Buccal aspect

Click here to view
Figure 4: Excised tissue after gingivectomy

Click here to view
Figure 5: Surgical area 2 weeks post-operatively

Click here to view
Figure 6: One year follow-up with no recurrence

Click here to view

Histopathological findings

Histopathological examination revealed numerous dendritic melanocytes distributed in basal and suprabasal layers of acanthotic epithelium. Melanocytes did not display any cytologic atypia [Figure 7]. The connective tissue was normal except for the presence of occasional eosinophils. There was no spillage of melanin pigment/melanocytes in subepithelial zone [Figure 8]. Histopathologic diagnosis of oral melanoacanthoma was rendered.
Figure 7: Microscopical features of melanoacathoma showing dendritic melanocytes distributed throughout acanthotic epithelium (H and E; original magnification ×100)

Click here to view
Figure 8: Melanoacanthoma showing dendritic melanocytes distributed in basal and suprabasal layers of epithelium with normal connective tissue (original magnification ×45)

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

Oral melanoacanthoma is a benign reactive process and shows a rapid increase in size that reaches several centimeters within a few weeks. The reported age of presentation ranges from 6 to 77 years with a mean age of 29 years. [7],[13] Though the lesion is most predominantly observed among black patients, occurrences have also been observed among Caucasians, Hispanics and Asians. [2],[13] The lesion usually occur on the buccal mucosa, but involvement of other sites such as the mucosa of lip, palate, gingiva and alveolar mucosa has also been reported. Clinically the lesion is flat or slightly raised black or brown macule. [13] The lesions are usually solitary and well-circumscribed, though a few authors have reported bilateral or multiple melanoacanthoma.

With the addition of featured case 13 patients with gingival melanoacanthoma have been reported [Table 1]. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive case of gingival melanoacanthoma presented clinically as pigmented diffuse gingival enlargement. At 1 year follow-up examination of our patient revealed no recurrence of any of the excised lesions.

The pathogenesis of oral melanoacanthomas is not yet clear, although these lesions are considered a reactive phenomenon. [10],[14],[15],[16] The etiology has been largely attributed to local irritation or even mild trauma. [4] Trauma was reported with only one case of gingival melanoacanthoma. [6],[12] There were no attributable etiologic factors with the present case. There may be an idiosyncratic predisposition toward the formation of oral melanoacanthoma in the patient.

Histopathological examination did not reveal nuclear pleomorphism, hyperchromatism and nests of melanocytes, suggestive of malignancy. There was normal connective tissue with no spillage of melanin pigment/melanocytes in subepithelial zone. In the light of the history, clinical features and the histopathologic examination, the final diagnosis of oral melanoacanthoma was made.

The clinical differential diagnosis of localized brown to black gingival pigmentations include smoker's melanosis, drug induced pigmentation, physiologic pigmentation, addison's disease, melanotic macule, pigmented nevi, spitz nevus, post-inflammatory melanosis, hemochromatosis, oral melanoma,  McCune-Albright syndrome More Details and Peutz-Jegher's syndrome. [17],[18] In early stages, oral melanoma may be indistinguishable from other pigmented lesions. Therefore, sudden onset of oral pigmentation of unknown etiology needs histopathologic assessment for lesional identity and to rule out the presence of oral melanoma. The lesion may undergo spontaneous regression after incisional biopsy. The present case required surgical excision only as a treatment option since the clinical presentation was diffuse gingival enlargement interfering with normal mastication.

   Conclusion Top

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case of gingival melanoacanthoma in the Indian sub-continent. Pigmented gingival lesions of unusual clinical presentation should undergo histopathologic examination for timely identification and to rule out malignancy. Our case report emphasizes the need for clinicians to include gingival melanoacanthoma in the differential diagnosis of multifocal diffuse pigmented gingival enlargement and surgical excision is only treatment modality for such unusual clinical presentation.

   References Top

1.Neville BW, Damm DD, Allen CW, Bouquot JE. Epithelial pathology. In: Neville BW, Damm DD, Allen CW, Bouquot JE, editors. Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. 3 rd ed. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders; 2009. p. 380-2.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Goode RK, Crawford BE, Callihan MD, Neville BW. Oral melanoacanthoma: Review of the literature and report of ten cases. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1983;56:622-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Yarom N, Hirshberg A, Buchner A. Solitary and multifocal oral melanoacanthoma. Int J Dermatol 2007;46:1232-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Brooks JK, Sindler AJ, Papadimitriou JC, Francis LA, Scheper MA. Multifocal melanoacanthoma of the gingiva and hard palate. J Periodontol 2009;80:527-32.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Maize JC. Mucosal melanosis. Dermatol Clin 1988;6:283-93.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Flaitz CM. Oral melanoacanthoma of the attached gingiva. Am J Dent 2000;13:162.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Fornatora ML, Reich RF, Haber S, Solomon F, Freedman PD. Oral melanoacanthoma: A report of 10 cases, review of the literature, and immunohistochemical analysis for HMB-45 reactivity. Am J Dermatopathol 2003;25:12-5.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Carlos-Bregni R, Contreras E, Netto AC, Mosqueda-Taylor A, Vargas PA, Jorge J, et al. Oral melanoacanthoma and oral melanotic macule: A report of 8 cases, review of the literature, and immunohistochemical analysis. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal 2007;12:e374-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Najjar T, Chiodo TA. Oral melanoacanthoma. E-Medicine, 2006. Available from: [Accessed on 2011 Oct 03].  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Brooks JK, Nikitakis NG. Gingival pigmentation of recent origin. Oral melanoacanthoma. Gen Dent 2008;56:105-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Marocchio LS, Júnior DS, de Sousa SC, Fabre RF, Raitz R. Multifocal diffuse oral melanoacanthoma: A case report. J Oral Sci 2009;51:463-6.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Tapia JL, Quezada D, Gaitan L, Hernandez JC, Paez C, Aguirre A. Gingival melanoacanthoma: Case report and discussion of its clinical relevance. Quintessence Int 2011;42:253-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Kauzman A, Pavone M, Blanas N, Bradley G. Pigmented lesions of the oral cavity: Review, differential diagnosis, and case presentations. J Can Dent Assoc 2004;70:682-3.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Tomich CE, Zunt SL. Melanoacanthosis (melanoacanthoma) of the oral mucosa. J Dermatol Surg Oncol 1990;16:231-6.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Wright JM. Intraoral melanoacanthoma: A reactive melanocytic hyperplasia: Case report. J Periodontol 1988;59:53-5.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Horlick HP, Walther RR, Zegarelli DJ, Silvers DN, Eliezri YD. Mucosal melanotic macule, reactive type: A simulation of melanoma. J Am Acad Dermatol 1988;19:786-91.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Gazi MI. Unusual pigmentation of the gingiva: Report of two different types. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 1986;62:646-9.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Buchner A, Merrell PW, Carpenter WM. Relative frequency of solitary melanocytic lesions of the oral mucosa. J Oral Pathol Med 2004;33:550-7.  Back to cited text no. 18


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8]

  [Table 1]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case Report
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded222    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal