Why Are My Gums Black? What Does This Mean?

Dark gums don’t always mean you’re unhealthy. People with more melanin may have naturally darker gums than people with less melanin. So if your gums are dark because of your genetics, then that’s no cause for concern. But if your gums have unexpectedly turned black, then that’s cause for alarm.

It’s true that genetics often play a role in the color of your gums. But illnesses, smoking and some medications can also cause gums to turn black. Keep reading to learn more about the causes of black gums.

What Causes Gums to Turn Black?

First of all, it’s important to remember that some people have gums that are naturally dark. Most people associate the color pink with healthy gums. But in some cases, healthy gums aren’t pink – but are darker in color.

Here are the most common reasons for gums to change color to black:

Normal Tooth Eruption

Kids that are teething and growing in new permanent teeth can sometimes develop an eruption hematoma. This is just a benign collection of blood that develops as the tooth pushes through the sensitive gum tissue. This goes away as the tooth continues to come in.

Blue Nevi

Blue Nevi are like dark freckles on your gums. They can be blue or black in color and are more common in women and usually occur during adolescence. No one knows why these develop, but if they seem like they are changing shape or color see your dentist.

Endocrine Diseases

It’s common for people with endocrine diseases to experience darkening gums. A gland that produces too little or too much of an endocrine hormone can cause a hormone imbalance that leads to endocrine disease.

Addison’s disease is an example of an endocrine disease that can turn gums black. People with the disease often develop dark spots on their mucous membranes. And your gums are basically connective tissue covered by a mucous membrane.

Side Effects Of Certain Medicines

Black gums are also sometimes a side effect of antibiotics, antimalarials, cancer therapy drugs, and antipsychotics. If you’re taking any of these medications, check the known side effects. It’s possible that your gums are black because of your medicine, and you need to speak with your doctor.

Smoking

Smoking can cause “smoker’s melanosis,” which develops when tobacco smoke irritates the gums. The American Academy of Oral Medicine reports that this condition usually occurs on the gum near the upper and lower front teeth.

Cancer

For example, malignant melanoma is a type of cancer that produces black lesions on the gums. Melanoma is more likely to spread than most other types of cancer.

If you’re worried that you have a black spot on your gums that is changing its appearance, call your dentist. They may recommend a specialist or biopsy the lesion themselves. Either way, a dentist is the person you should contact when you notice something on your gums that concerns you.

When Should You Be Worried That Your Gums Are Turning Black?

Generally, dark gums aren’t a cause for concern. But sometimes black gums can mean something serious is going on with your health.

If your gums have always been a lighter color but now are turning dark, check with your dentist. This is especially true if you’re also feeling pain or seeing the tissue also change its appearance.

Malignant melanoma is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. See your dentist immediately if dark lesions develop on your gums.

When your gums turn black, it’s possible that nothing major is wrong. But it’s a wise decision to seek medical attention to confirm why your gums have changed color. It’s likely that your health isn’t at risk, but you need to know for sure.

Are There Ways To Remove The Black Color From Your Gums?

The treatment for gum discoloration depends on its cause. Here are some options based on various situations.

1. Gum bleaching is an option when your gum discoloration isn’t a life-threatening issue. Gum bleaching (also known as gum depigmentation) is a cosmetic procedure to lighten the gums and remove dark spots. If your gums are dark because of genetics or an increase in melanin production, gum bleaching is possibly an option.

2. A gingivectomy involves surgically removing gum tissue with a scalpel. This procedure is often recommended when black gums are the result of an increase in melanin. It’s a cosmetic procedure that generally produces good results.

However, there’s a chance that the gums will become dark again. This is because melanin-producing cells can invade the treated area. When this happens, more pigmentation is the result.

3. Cryosurgery is possibly an option if you have dark (but non-cancerous) lesions on your gums. The lesions are frozen, and the cells are removed. Unlike with a gingivectomy, the rate of recurring black gums is very low following cryosurgery.

4. Free gingival grafting is another method for getting rid of black gums. This procedure removes unpigmented tissue from the roof of the mouth. This tissue is then used to conceal the dark areas of the gums.

Dealing with Black Gums

Gums that are naturally dark are nothing to worry about. If you’ve had dark gums your entire life, then the color is likely because of your genetics.

However, gums that are black because of unknown reasons are a cause for alarm. Perhaps you’re experiencing side-effects of a medication or you could have a life-threatening disease.

Speak with your medical doctor if you suspect your black gums are due to medication. Your doctor can possibly prescribe a new medication that won’t cause your gums to change color.

And smoking, even if your gums aren’t black, is a habit to drop. In addition to causing black gums, smoking can damage your teeth and cause bad breath. There’s also the possibility of other medical issues, such as cancer.

The bottom line is you should contact a dentist to discuss possible reasons why your gums are black.