What causes black gums?
Gum color varies from person to person. Black gums and other changes in gum color can be caused by a medical condition, medication, smoking, or other lifestyle factors.
The gums are hard tissue that surrounds and holds the teeth. They can range in color from red or pink to brown or black.
Good oral health is essential for overall well-being. Changes in gum color can indicate an underlying health problem, so a person should speak to a doctor to determine the cause.
Causes of black gums
There are a number of conditions that can lead to black gums, including:
The body naturally produces melanin, a substance that gives color to the skin, hair and eyes. The more melanin a person has in their body, the darker their hair, skin, or eyes will be.
Dark brown or black gums can be caused by a person who has more melanin in the body. If a person’s gums have always been very dark, there is no need to worry.
However, if the gum color changes for a short period of time, or if there are black spots on the gums, it is unlikely to be caused by melanin and may indicate a medical problem.
Smoking can lead to discolored gums. This is known as smoker’s melanosis.
Specialized cells in the body called melanocytes form melanin. The nicotine in tobacco can cause melanocytes to produce more melanin than usual.
The gums can turn brown or black. The change in color can appear in spots or affect the entire inside of the mouth. The inside of the cheeks and lower lip can also change color.
Research has found a link between smoking cessation and reduced gum discoloration. This suggests that darker stains on the gums caused by smoking may be reversible.
Minocycline is used to treat acne and some infections, such as chlamydia. A rare side effect of minocycline is pigmentation or discoloration, which can sometimes occur in the mouth.
A person should talk to their doctor about medication discoloration as alternative medications may be available.
4. Amalgam tattoo
An amalgam tattoo can appear anywhere in the mouth, but usually appears next to a filling. It looks like a black, gray or blue spot in the mouth.
Amalgam is a mixture of metals used to make fillings and crowns. If particles of this material dissolve, it can show up under the skin of the gums.
Treatment is usually not necessary for amalgam tattoos, since they pose no health risks.
5. Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis is inflammation of the gums, also known as the trench mouth. It causes fever, painful gums and bad smelling breath. Infection can cause black or gray gums if a layer of dead tissue builds up over the gums.
Trench mouth results from the rapid growth of bacteria in the mouth, usually due to gingivitis. Bacteria can accumulate due to poor oral hygiene, stress, lack of sleep or an unhealthy diet.
Early symptoms of trench mouth include bleeding gums, bad breath, a lot of saliva in the mouth and feeling sick. Ulcers can form on the gums at the edge of the teeth.
Treatment is straightforward. A dentist will clean your mouth and can prescribe antibiotics.
Rinse your mouth with medicated mouthwash and keep your teeth and gums clean to prevent repeated infections.
6. Addison’s disease
Addison’s disease affects the adrenal glands, which make a variety of hormones. The disorder prevents these glands from producing enough hormones.
Early symptoms include:
- feel thirsty than usual
- accidental weight loss
- weakened muscles
As Addison’s disease progresses, a person may experience darkened gums and lips. The medical expression for this is hyperpigmentation.
Not only can Addison’s disease affect the lips and gums, it can also cause darker skin on other areas of the body. The most common places where dark spots can develop are knees, knuckles, palms, and scars.
Most cases of Addison’s disease are due to a problem with the immune system. This causes the body to attack and damage the adrenal glands.
Addison’s disease can cause serious complications if it is not treated. If the hormone level drops too low, this can lead to an adrenal crisis.
Symptoms of an adrenal crisis include severe dehydration, rapid and shallow breathing, drowsiness, and pale, clammy skin. An adrenal crisis is a medical emergency.
7. Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is a genetic disorder that can increase the risk of developing polyps or cancer.
One of the early symptoms is the appearance of dark blue or dark brown freckles. These can occur in the mouth as well as on the skin of the fingers and toes.
Peutz-Jegher’s freckles typically appear in childhood and disappear with age. Another key symptom is bleeding or a blockage in the intestine, which usually also occurs in childhood.
A genetic test can show whether a person has Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.
Treatment for black gums depends on the underlying cause. With diseases such as gum disease or Addison’s disease, drug treatment is usually required.
It may be possible to reverse changes in gum color caused by smoking. A doctor should be able to give advice and support on how to quit smoking.
Cosmetic dentists can offer gum bleaching to lighten the color of the gums. However, bleaching can cause gum damage and should only be done by an approved professional.
People can maintain good oral hygiene by brushing their teeth regularly, teeth once a day >In addition to regular visits to the dentist, maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to keep teeth and gums healthy.
A person may also want to brush their gums regularly and gently with a soft bristle toothbrush.
The causes of black gums can usually be treated. Genetic conditions often show a number of symptoms that can help a doctor or dentist diagnose an illness.
Paying attention to changes in gum color can help a person find and treat health problems early.
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