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Port Wine Stain Involving the Gums and Lips
contributed by Linda Shannon, HVBF Exec. Dir.

When a PWS involves the gums, it is apparent. The gums are darker on the affected side. Rarely are the entire gums affected. The gums can be light red to dark purple. The darker the color, the thicker the vessels are engourged with blood. As the port wine stain ages, the vessels in the gum, especially if left untreated, will also thicken. As a result, these thickened blood vessels will push the teeth apart and cause loose teeth, spacey teeth and dental caries. Gums can be treated with laser surgery and surgery by a trained maxillo-facial surgeon. Some PWS of the gums never progress. Some progress and begin to cause problems after adulthood. Severe PWS of the gums cause problems with teeth coming in right from the start as the engourged vessels leave little room in the gums for the teeth to come in.

A PWS that involves the lips can become quite thick. The laser will not correct the thickness. Laser surgery can effectively remove the stain but a head and neck surgeon or specialist is required to debulk the lip. If the lip is debulked, it should be done by someone who knows how to obliterate the engourged vessels so there is little chance of regrowth. This is very difficult but I have seen it done successfully.

If you are your child has a PWS and it is NOT on the gums or lips, chances are it will not be there when they grow up, unless the "map" of the stain is so light in that area that it is not apparent until they are older. PWS do not grow in the "map" or outline of the PWS but rather in the thickness.

If you or your child has gum involvement or lip involvement, he/she should be seen by a specialist and treatment should be considered early to prevent future dental problems or future lip distortion.