Dental Tips Blog


Why Are My Gums So Dark?

Posted in Gum Disease

Dark gums usually aren’t a sign of any problem. They’re because gum tissue can be pigmented with melanin just like skin anywhere else on your body can be.

Melanin-free gums tend to be a coral pink color, while melanin-rich ones vary in shades of tan and even purple. Gums can even have freckles!

However, when your gums turn dark when they’ve been another color for your entire life it may be an indication of a problem that calls for periodontal therapy or other treatment. Some reasons for this may be:

  • Smoking
  • Metal restorations (pigment leaching into gums)
  • Medications such as tricyclic antidepressants
  • Acute necrotizing ulcerative periodontitis (“ANUG”)

That last causative factor poses a serious immediate risk to your oral health. Acute necrotizing ulcerative periodontitis can be triggered as a result of smoking, stress, a viral infection, HIV, or extreme lack of oral care.

ANUG causes the gum tissue to die off quickly, turning black in the process. If you notice darkening gums accompanied by pain, bleeding, and very bad breath, then you need to see a dentist immediately for treatment including antibiotic therapy.

What About White Gums?

The opposite problem (gum color lightening) can also indicate trouble. Gums may also turn pale from cigarette use, which reduces healthy blood circulation. A white patch on your gums that easily wipes off may be a thrush infection, treatable with anti-fungal medication.

Any other white-colored growth may be a precancerous growth called leukoplakia.

See your dentist at least twice a year for regular dental checkups which include gum examinations. Proper oral hygiene will help you maintain good health and frequent checkups will help you catch problems before they get out of hand. Talk with your dentist or dental hygienist for more information on what your discolored gums could mean.

Posted on behalf of:
Rolling Hills Dentistry
53 North Street
Danbury, CT 06810
(203) 743-0783

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