Those who have visited a dentist before likely know that gums are typically pink, but occasionally, black or dark brown spots can appear. Although there are various reasons why black gums may develop, most of them are not concerning.
However, in certain cases, black gums can be a symptom of a more severe underlying condition.
As a result, if a patient detects any dark spots on their gums that become painful or change in size, shape, or colour, they should seek the advice of a dentist as soon as possible. Understanding the typical causes of black spots on gums can assist a patient in deciding whether to seek dental treatment or wait for their next appointment.
With that being said, here are the most crucial aspects that patients should be aware of regarding this dental issue.
Black Gums Causes
Remaining calm is important if you notice a black stain on your gums, as it may not necessarily indicate a serious condition. However, it is important to take the matter seriously as it can be a sign of dental issues that need to be addressed.
To understand the causes of black spots on gums, patients should be aware of the most common reasons.
Smoking is a common cause of discoloured gums, known as smoker’s melanosis.
Nicotine in tobacco can stimulate specialised cells called melanocytes, which produce melanin. This excessive melanin production can lead to black gums in smokers. Fortunately, quitting smoking can result in reduced gum discoloration and reversing the dark patches on the gums caused by smoking.
Gums can sustain injuries from falling on one’s face, consuming sharp-edged foods like bones, or brushing too aggressively. Bruises on the gums appear dark red, purple, or even dark brown. Generally, gum bruises heal naturally, just like other parts of the body. But if a patient observes excessive black spots on their gums and cannot recall any injuries, it is advisable to consult a reliable dentist.
Black gums can also signify other medical conditions like thrombocytopenia, which impedes blood clotting ability. Hence, seeking medical attention from a professional dentist is crucial in such cases.
The appearance of a black spot on gums could be due to a harmless increase in melanin production. However, if the spot changes colour or shape, it’s advisable to consult a dentist.
4. Amalgam Tattoo
Patients who have undergone dental filling for cavities may notice a dark spot on their gums due to amalgam left on the soft tissue. The use of amalgam for dental fillings can sometimes cause particles to lodge around the filling, creating a stain on the gums. Although these stains are permanent, they do not pose any health risks and do not require any medical treatment.
5. Blue Nevus
Blue nevus is a harmless, round mole that can appear as a flat or slightly raised spot. The mole can be either black or blue in colour and typically resembles a freckle on the patient’s gums.
Despite its common occurrence, scientists and doctors remain unsure about what causes blue nevus. However, it usually appears in the early stages of life, and many children and teenagers have these moles.
Diagnosing blue nevus is relatively easy, as a dentist can usually identify it through observation, without requiring a biopsy. In most cases, blue nevus moles do not require treatment. However, if the mole changes in shape, colour, or size, the dentist may conduct some tests to minimise the risk of cancer.
Some medications can cause gum discoloration in patients. For instance, Minocycline, a drug used to treat acne and infections such as chlamydia, can cause pigmentation or discoloration as a side effect. This pigmentation may sometimes affect the teeth as well.
7. Medical Conditions
It should be noted that teeth discoloration is not always caused by poor oral health. Black gums may be the result of various medical conditions. Here are three diseases that can cause this dental condition:
- Addison’s Disease:
This disease affects the adrenal glands, which produce a range of hormones. When the glands are not able to produce these hormones, a variety of symptoms can occur, including fatigue, loss of appetite, unintended weight loss, weakened muscles, and increased thirst. If left untreated, a patient may experience darkened gums and lips.
- Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis:
Also known as trench mouth, this gum infection causes fever, painful gums, and bad breath. It can lead to black or grey gums due to the presence of a layer of dead tissue on the gums.
- Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome:
This genetic disease can increase the risk of polyps or cancer. The early symptom to look out for is the appearance of dark blue or dark brown freckles. These freckles can appear on the skin of the fingers and toes, as well as on the gums.
Symptoms of Black Gums
Black gums around teeth may be indicated by several signs, including bad breath, loose teeth, hard deposits on the teeth, and dark staining on the surface of the teeth. Additionally, red, swollen, or bleeding gums can also be a symptom of oral issues like gum disease or dental abscess.
If a patient is experiencing black gums along their gum line alongside gum problems, it could be a sign of gum disease. In the early stages, dental professionals may suggest using an antimicrobial toothpaste or rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash to promote gum health and help reverse gum disease.
Black Gums Treatment
Most cases of black gums can be treated, but the type of treatment varies depending on the underlying cause. Conditions such as gum infections or Addison’s disease usually require medication. In cases where smoking is the culprit, the solution is as simple as quitting smoking, which will cause the dark spots to fade over time.
For those who seek a quicker solution, gum bleaching is an option, although it should be noted that this treatment can damage the gums and should only be performed by a reputable dentist.
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