Black gums may cause panic because you have always noticed your gums to be pink.
Rest assured, you are not alone.
According to Google’s search engine, the term ‘black gums’ is searched over 100,000 times every month only in the USA. Separately, the term ‘gums turning black’ is also searched over 10,000 times during the same time.
In this post, we take an in-depth look at the matter to see what causes black gums in your mouth.
Let’s get right into it.
17 Leading Causes of Black Gums Around Teeth
1. Physical injury can cause black gums
If you have hurt yourself in the teeth or the gums, your gums may temporarily turn black.
To hurt your gums, you don’t need to fall face down on a concrete floor. Chewing something as small as a piece of chicken bone can sometimes be enough to cause your mouth to react.
Your gums may initially turn red because of excessive blood flow at the location. However, sometimes the red color turns black if other catalysts are present.
2. Low blood platelet count
If your blood does not have the right count of platelets in it, your gums may look black.
Platelets are blood cells that help blood clot. They are colorless.
Reasons for having a low platelet count
- If you are into drinking or have leukemia or certain lymphoma syndromes, you may have a low blood platelet count.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), DLBCL, or Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma, is the most common form of lymphoma.
People with lymphoma have pea-sized glands in their necks, armpits, and various areas of the immune system.
- You may have lost platelets if infected with bacteria or viruses.
- Malaria or dengue can cause that too.
- Certain types of prolonged infections can be a reason you have fewer platelets in your blood.
3. New Moles
We all know that moles form in our bodies during childhood or adolescence. But do not be surprised if they start showing up when you are an adult.
According to a story published in Women’s Health magazine as recently as 2016, thousands of moles can appear in your body without warning.
Can moles grow in your mouth? They can, and they do. Moles in the mouth are called Oral Nevi.
What are moles?
If you don’t know what moles are or don’t know much about moles, this part is for you.
This is how Encyclopedia Brittanica defines moles:
- They can be flat or fleshy.
- They grow between the dermis and epidermis.
- Moles may expand in adults.
- Their color may not always remain the same or uniform. A dark mole may look brown in some spots.
- They are pigmented. Their color may vary from light to dark brown or black.
- Thicker moles may have nerves and connective tissues. Connective tissues are fibrous tissues. You can find them in various forms and densities in the human body. Some examples include blood, bone, and lymph.
- Existing moles may grow thicker during pregnancy, as new moles may grow simultaneously.
Hyperpigmentation is a medical term. It means excessive color. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD) describes a condition in which patches of skin look darker than the skin around them.
This may be the reason your gums have turned black.
The gums will look darker if you go to the sun.
Excessive sun exposure, mouth trauma, hormone fluctuations, and certain types of medication are some of the root causes of hyperpigmentation.
5. Birth control pills
Your gums may turn black if you are taking birth control pills. These pills trigger hormonal changes in your body. Your body adjusts to the new condition by producing more and more melanin.
Certain birth control pills contain progesterone. It is a steroid hormone and can create inflammation in your gums. The inflammation is the result of having more blood in your gums. The gums may become more sensitive at this time.
Black patches in the gums may slowly fade away if you discontinue taking birth control pills. But they may reappear when you start retaking the pills.
Melasma or chloasma, also called the mask of pregnancy, is a condition in which a pregnant woman develops brown patches on her body.
According to Harvard Medical School, melasma may not be limited to pregnant women and may last long after the pregnancy.
7. Lack of Vitamin
A lack of vitamin B12 and vitamin D may turn your gums black.
If your body does not have enough of these vitamins, there will be a surge of melasma.
Melasma is a skin condition when you have brown or freckle-like spots on your body. It is the result of high body cells that determine your skin color.
If your oral hygiene is not good enough, you may have gingivitis. There will be a rapid growth of bacteria in your mouth, resulting in gum infection and tooth decay.
If not treated quickly, gum infection may create a black or gray layer of dead tissues over the gums.
The infection generally starts at the gingival sulcus, the tiny space between your teeth and gums. It may gradually spread to other areas of the gum.
9. Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome often develops in children and fades as they get older.
If you have Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, you have small, dark-colored spots on your lips and inside your mouth. The spots may also grow near your eyes, nostrils, fingers, and toes.
There is no cure for Peutz-Jeghers syndrome. Children above eight and adults having this condition undergo an endoscopic examination to see if they have cancer.
This is a rare condition. Only one in 50,000 to 100,000 people may have it.
10. Addison’s Disease
Psychosis and confusion are the two most cited signs of Addison’s disease. Apart from that, you may have visible signs on your body in the form of black patches.
These patches commonly grow near scars and on the gums.
Gums have mucous membranes. They make mucus and protect the inner parts of your mouth. If you have Addison’s disease, your gums become weak.
One of the common causes of Addison’s disease is tuberculosis. It occurs in women more than in men and generally among people between 30 and 50.
11. Freckle-like Labial Melanotic Macules
Melanotic macules are dark spots found on your lips and inside your mouth. They are considered harmless.
You may have melanotic macules due to injury to your mouth, hormonal imbalance in your body, and genetically received pigmentation.
In some cases, smoking was considered a reason for triggering this condition.
Extreme sun exposure may provoke them. But, in some cases, they were seen to develop in sites that are never sun-exposed.
12. Hemochromatosis, or the condition of having excessive iron in your body
In its normal condition, the human body contains a steady iron level. But what happens when you eat iron-rich foods? Your body has to be able to absorb the extra iron.
If you have hemochromatosis, your body cannot do that job. As a result, you may see an overload of iron in your body. That is when you notice the symptoms of melanoderma. Melanoderma means the darkening or bronzing of your skin.
The human body does not have the means to excrete excess iron. If you have this condition, you may not eat red meat ad other iron-rich food. If you do, you may see that your gums have become black.
Medications for acne treatment may turn your gums black.
Besides, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-malaria drugs, anti-convulsant drugs like Phenytoin, and anti-psychotic drugs including Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa, and Clozaril may cause hyperpigmentation in your body resulting in black gums.
14. Amalgam Fillings in Your Mouth
Amalgam fillings, or amalgam tattoos, may cause black spots on your gums.
It is made from a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. If you had used amalgam to treat your decayed tooth, you might experience an amalgam tattoo.
It occurs when your gums come in touch with the amalgam during the filling cleaning or replacement procedure.
Not only on your gums, but you may also have black spots caused by amalgam fillings on your tongue, inside of your cheeks, and on the roof of your mouth.
Smoking increases the level of melanin. The condition is called ‘Smoker’s Melanosis.’
Your gums and lips, especially the lower lip, may turn dark brown or black if you smoke. At the same time, if you hold your cigarette between the same two fingers repeatedly, your fingers may turn yellow or brown due to the toxins of the cigarettes.
The condition will improve if you stop smoking. However, it may take as long as six months to see any noticeable change of color and around 36 months to restore the original color of your gums.
16. Mouth Cancer
The mouth is covered by a mucous membrane. It is the thin lining we notice on our mouth’s skin surface. If you have mouth cancer, it most likely started in this thin lining.
Mouth cancer can develop in the following sites of the mouth:
- Inner cheek
- The floor of the mouth
- Hard Palate
Mouth cancer is the 6th most common cancer in the world. It may start in the melanocytes of your mouth. They are the cells that produce a skin pigment called melanin. They are dark.
As you can understand, mouth cancer can start in the form of a tumor from the proliferation of melanocytes in the mouth. The result: more melanin means more dark color.
17. Melanoacanthoma or Noncancerous Skin Growth
Melanoacanthoma is a kind of noncancerous skin growth that people develop as they get older.
This condition may occur in a person’s neck, trunk, or head. The growths are usually brown, black, or light tan. However, they may grow inside your mouth as well.
The cause of Melanoacanthoma is unknown. It is believed oral trauma and irritation of the gum membrane have something to do with it.
Black Gums Around Teeth: Final Word
As you can see above, gums may turn black for many reasons. Without proper examination, it is difficult to say exactly the reason. The best solution for you is to consult your dentist if you notice black spots on your gums or if your gums have started turning black. That is because there are no medically proven home remedies for black gums.
Black gums may just be the symptoms of frustrating and complicated things to come for you.
Eventually, it may not be possible for you to stop your gums from being dark. But you can try to keep your mouth healthy by following guidelines to prevent what is preventable. We recommend the following:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Use fluoride-rich toothpaste to prevent tooth decay.
- Do not forget to floss your teeth at least once daily.
- Use a soft-bristled brush and change your brush every three months.
- If you have oral piercings, contact your dentist if you notice any signs of infection.
- Do not miss the appointments with your dentists.
- Oral infections should never be overlooked.
- Take good care of your dental appliances.
- Quit or control habits like smoking and drinking.
Black Gums: FAQs
Gums may turn black for many reasons, including trauma, medication, smoking, hormonal change in the body, and pregnancy. They may also look black if you have oral cancer, Melanoacanthoma, amalgam tattoo, and excessive iron in your body.
Unfortunately, there are no medically proven home remedies for dark gums. If your gums start turning dark, you should contact your dentist. Dark gums are often the consequences of more significant health problems, which your dentist will be able to identify after a proper examination.
- Harvard Medical School. ‘Unmasking the causes and treatments of melasma.’
- The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. ‘Melasma.’
- The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. ‘Hyperpigmentation.’
- Encyclopedia Britannica. ‘Mole.’
- Women’s Health Magazine. ‘Why Did This Woman Suddenly Develop Thousands of Moles All Over Her Body?’
- Australasian College of Dermatologists. ‘Melasma.’
- National Health Services. ‘Mouth cancer.’
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