Healthy gums are pink and firm to the touch. As with other color changes to your gums, darkening or blackening may be totally harmless, or it may be a cause for concern. If yours have changed color recently, it could be that normal hormonal changes or harmless side effects of oral procedures are to blame. On the other hand, you could have an underlying health condition. You’ll need a diagnosis from your dentist or doctor to be sure. Then, you can begin treatment if necessary.
What Do Healthy Gums Look Like?
If you are trying to prevent gum disease, it’s important to know what healthy gums look like. dentists explain how you can tell the difference between healthy gums and unhealthy ones based on appearance.
While most people have pink gums, healthy gums can actually come in a variety of shades, some quite light pink, and some darker, more toward brown or even black. As you might image, darker coloured gums are more common in individuals with darker skin tones.
Gums that are bright red, white or unnaturally black may indicate that gum disease is present. In some cases, darker coloured gums can mean disease is present, so if you gums have perceptibly changed colour, it’s worth getting them checked out.
Healthy gums feel firm to the touch, and you won’t be able to move them around with your finger. They also fit tightly around your teeth.
Unhealthy gums, on the other hand, can look and feel puffy and are more malleable than healthy gums. They often feel soft and somewhat tender to the touch. They may also begin to pull back away from the teeth.
Healthy gums do not bleed during brushing or flossing. If you notice that your gums are bleeding when you brush and floss, it could be a sign of gum disease.
Causes of black gums
There is a range of conditions that can cause black gums, including:
The body naturally produces melanin, a substance that gives the skin, hair, and eyes their color. The more melanin a person has in their body, the darker their hair, skin, or eyes will be.
Dark brown or black gums may be due to a person having more melanin in the body. If a person’s gums have always been very dark, there is no cause for concern.
If the gum color changes over a short period, however, or if patches of black appear on the gums, it is probably not caused by melanin and may indicate a medical issue.
Poor oral hygiene
Black gums are also a direct consequence of poor or neglected oral hygiene. The accumulation of plaque and tartar near the gingival sulcus irritates the gums with ease. If the tartar is not removed with a deep dental cleaning, the inflammation spreads to the whole gingival tissue causing a gradual redness. Not intervening promptly could complicate the situation up to a periodontitis.
Hereditary or species factors
Among the non-pathological causes we have both hereditary factors and characteristic factors of the species. People with dark skin have an excess of melanin, also present in the gums, this leads to a variation in the pigmentation that makes them appear darker.
Smoking can cause discolored gums. This is known as smoker’s melanosis. Specialized cells in the body called melanocytes make melanin. The nicotine in tobacco can cause melanocytes to produce more melanin than usual.
Gums may become more brown or black. The change in color can appear in patches or affect the entire inside of the mouth. The inside of the cheeks and lower lip may also change color.
Research has found a link between quitting smoking and reduced gum discoloration. This suggests that darker patches of color on the gums caused by smoking may be reversible.
Minocycline is used to treat acne and some infections, such as chlamydia. An uncommon side effect of minocycline is pigmentation or discoloration, which can sometimes occur in the mouth.
A person should speak to their doctor about any discolorations caused by medications, as alternative drugs may be available.
An amalgam tattoo can appear anywhere in the mouth but usually appears next to a filling. It looks like a black, grey, or blue patch inside the mouth.
Amalgam is a mix of metals used to make fillings and crowns. If particles of this material get dislodged, it can show up under the skin of the gum.
Treatment is not usually needed for amalgam tattoos, as they do not pose any health risks.
Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis is a gum infection that is also known as trench mouth. It causes fever, painful gums, and bad-smelling breath. An infection can cause black or grey 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 may build up because of poor oral hygiene, stress, lack of sleep, or an unhealthful diet.
Early symptoms of trench mouth include bleeding gums, bad breath, lots of saliva in the mouth, and feeling ill. Ulcers may form on the gums at the edge of the teeth. Treatment is straightforward. A dentist will clean the mouth and may prescribe antibiotics. Rinsing the mouth with medicated mouthwash and keeping teeth and gums clean will help prevent repeat infections.
Addison’s disease affects the adrenal glands, which make a variety of hormones. The disorder stops these glands from producing enough hormones.
Early symptoms include:
- feeling more thirsty than usual
- unintended weight loss
- lack of appetite
- weakened muscles
As Addison’s disease progresses, a person may experience darkened gums and lips. The medical term for this is hyperpigmentation.
As well as affecting the lips and gums, Addison’s disease can cause darker patches of skin in other areas of the body. The most common places where dark patches may develop are on the knees, knuckles, in the lines of the palms, and around 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 severe complications if left untreated. If hormone levels drop too low, it can cause an adrenal crisis.
Symptoms of an adrenal crisis include severe dehydration, fast and shallow breathing, drowsiness, and pale, clammy skin. An adrenal crisis is a medical emergency.
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is a genetic condition 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 appear in the mouth as well as on the skin of the fingers and toes.
Peutz-Jeghers freckles typically appear in childhood and disappear with age. Another key symptom is bleeding or a blockage in the gut, which usually also occurs in childhood. A genetic test can show if a person has Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.
Black gums in pregnancy
In pregnancy, the gums may appear black because it increases the predisposition to the accumulation of bacteria and plaque, with consequent redness and inflammation of the gums. You can prevent the phenomenon of black gums in pregnancy by planning a session of deep oral hygiene and carefully taking care of daily oral hygiene.
Black gums during teething
Black gums in babies are the first sign of the teething phase. In fact, the teeth that emerge are anticipated by a progressive redness and swelling of the gums. The phenomenon of black gums among infants is therefore very common and should not cause any concern. At the end of the teething phase, the gingival tissue will return to its normal pink color.
As it is easy to deduce, black gums have multiple causes. By identifying a color change even with the naked eye, it is therefore always advisable to consult your dentist for an appropriate diagnosis.
How to lighten dark gums at home?
If you decide to take care of your gums and make sure that they are healthy, the best solution is to consult with a doctor. Of course, you can try to use medicinal herbs to reduce darkening. There are recipes of infusions with herbs such as sage, mint, lemon balm, and oregano. These components have an anti-inflammatory effect, however, the result of these measures for dark gums treatment is doubtful. Non-traditional medicine recommends the use of thyme, calamus root, chamomile, and sage. A decoction of these herbs can help anesthetize sick gums, relieve inflammation, strengthen tissues and eliminate bad breath. You have decided to try? Consult with your healthcare expert first.
Professional black gums treatment
Have you heard about gum bleaching? This is the name of a cosmetic periodontal procedure of removing extra pigmentation and dark spots from the gums.
There are 2 whitening solutions that can be used to create your renewed smile: a microdermabrasion process and a laser technique.
- The first solution is a traditional way of whitening. It usually takes less than an hour to complete. An expert removes the pigmented area of tissues and reveals the healthy, pale-pink tissue beneath. You won’t feel your dark gums turning pink because your mouth will be numbed to prevent any discomfort during the procedure.
- In laser depigmentation, a dental laser targets and ablates melanin-producing cells in the gums. While tissue is healing, your organism creates a naturally more light gum color. A good news is that a result of a procedure lasts for your entire lifetime! This way of how to make your gums pink will make you forget about creams, gels, and other remedies. The only things you will remember are your smile and the joy from its permanent beauty.
People can maintain good oral hygiene by brushing teeth regularly, flossing once a day, and cutting down on sugar.
These actions should be carried out alongside regular visits to the dentist. Maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to keep teeth and gums healthy.
A person may also wish to brush their gums regularly and gently, using a soft bristle toothbrush. Oral hygiene products are available for purchase in most pharmacies and online, including toothbrushes, dental floss, and mouthwash.
The causes of black gums can usually be treated. Genetic conditions often show a range of symptoms that can help a doctor or dentist to diagnose a disease.
Paying attention to changes in the color of the gums can help a person find and treat any health problems early.