Black gums | Causes and treatment

Are Black Gums normal?

Black gums

The gum discoloration shown in this image is normal and natural melanin

Are you noticing black spots on your gums? Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. There are various reasons why your gums may have black spots or appear black in color. The key to treating this issue is finding out what is responsible for the different colors. Occasionally black gums can be a cosmetic issue when they show in your smile. There are different options available when it comes to correcting this problem.

Six things that can cause black gums

One of the main questions your dentist will ask you is whether or not your black gums have always been dark in color, or if this is a recent development. If you have dark or pigmented areas in your mouth, it doesn’t always mean they aren’t healthy or that they require treatment.

1)  Melanin

Your black gums may be caused by melanin. Different amounts of melanin can affect not only the color of our skin tone but also the color of the soft tissues in our mouth. If your darkened gums are simply due to melanin then there is no treatment necessary, unless, of course, you’d like to do so for cosmetic reasons.

2)  Dental trauma

Bruising can affect all areas of the body, including the gums. If you have experienced a recent dental trauma then bruising may be a side effect that just needs time to heal. After mouth trauma, watch the area to see if it is getting worse or not healing then it is time to see your dentist.

3)  Medications

Have you recently started a new medication? Medications can have all sorts of side effects, including darkening of the gums. If you think your medication may be responsible for the changes in your mouth then it is good to mention this to your doctor. A different medication may be prescribed.

4)  Oral hazards of smoking

A condition called smoker’s melanosis can also be responsible for dark gums. An ingredient in cigarettes called nicotine contributes to this issue. Research has shown that quitting smoking can possibly reverse the darkened areas.

5)  A failing old crown

The cement that seals the margin of a crown can wash out after 15 years. The open margin will collect debris and turn dark. this darkness can make the gum line appear darker or black.

6)  Amalgam tattoos can cause black spots on gums

black spot on gum

Amalgam tattoo caused by a root canal surgery

Silver fillings or amalgam is not used in the United States as much as it used to. Now it is used in circumstances where isolation of the cavity is difficult. Amalgam tattoos occur when silver filling material is incorporated into healthy gum tissue and oxidizes into a deep blue black colored area.

Dark or black gums can also be a sign of a more serious condition.

Addison’s disease

Addison’s disease can affect the color of the skin, as well as the color of the oral mucosa and gingiva. This is because Addison’s disease affects the production of certain hormones, specifically the hormones released from your adrenal glands. Hyperpigmentation can occur which causes dermal and mucosal pigments to change and dark patches to appear.

Peutz Jeghers syndrome

While uncommon, Peutz Jeghers syndrome is a genetic disorder that can affect the pigmentation of gum tissue. Dark spots begin to appear on the face, as well as inside the mouth. This is typically diagnosed in early childhood when dark freckles first begin to erupt around the eyes, nose, and lips.


Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, also known as ANUG, may also be responsible for the dark or black spots that can appear on your gums. ANUG is an infection that occurs suddenly without warning. Typically, someone with ANUG will have bad breath.

Bleeding gums may be one of the first signs that something is amiss. The tissue between the teeth may also appear red and inflamed. Dental pain may also be a side effect of this condition.

Poor oral hygiene can be responsible for ANUG and smoking can also be a factor. Compromised immune systems may also factor into your risk of developing ANUG. If you think you may have ANUG it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible. Early treatment is key to protecting your oral health and preventing the infection from getting worse.

Advanced stages of periodontal disease

Once gum disease has progressed you may begin to notice dark spots appearing on your upper and lower gums. If the periodontal disease has reached this point you may also be experiencing issues with your teeth. The bone and soft tissue begin to weaken and you are more susceptible to losing teeth. Trench mouth is a particular version of periodontal disease.

Oral cancer

The sudden onset of dark or black spots on your gums may also be due to a more severe underlying condition such as oral cancer. Oral cancer, also known as malignant melanoma, can cause dark patches to appear in the mouth.

Other symptoms can include cracked or bleeding mucosa. The use of tobacco products can increase your risk of oral cancer. If oral cancer is suspected you may need to undergo a biopsy to confirm or rule out cancer. Early identification of cancer is important to protecting your health. The main goal is to remove the cancer before it has a chance to spread elsewhere.

What are some ways to treat black gums?

Once the cause of your darkened gums has been determined, multiple methods are available to remove the dark spots on your gum and to restore the pink gum.

Laser Tissue Bleaching

Laser bleaching is a far less intrusive procedure. There are no incisions necessary and recovery time is quick. Most patients only need one treatment and are thrilled with their results.

Prior to the procedure local anesthesia is applied to make patients more comfortable. Then the laser is used to lighten the tissue to the desired color. For the most part, laser bleaching is a painless procedure that provides great results.

Scalpel surgery

Depending on the diagnosis, the best treatment may be removal of the gum tissue. This may be necessary for cancer or severe cases of infection. Prior to the procedure, you will be given anesthesia. The affected tissue will be removed with a scalpel and then covered or bandaged to allow for proper healing.

How can I find out more information about the black spots on my gums?

When it comes to any changes in your body, whether it be a mole or the color of your gum tissue, it is in your best interest to see a doctor. You could possibly identify a potential issue in its early stages. Early treatment of any issue will help to provide the best possible outcome.

Contact our office today at (847) 234-0517 to schedule a consultation. Dr. Fondriest is a highly knowledgeable dentist who will guide you accordingly. He will examine your mouth and ask questions regarding your medical history. From there, Dr. Fondriest can work with you to create a plan of action.

We look forward to your visit and helping you obtain your dental goals.