What Causes Black Gums?

Black gums, also known as gum hyperpigmentation, can have various causes. It’s essential to note that not all cases of dark or black gums are due to a medical issue, and some people naturally have darker gum tissue. However, if you’ve noticed a recent change in the color of your gums or have concerns about the appearance of your gums, it’s a good idea to consult a dentist or periodontist for a proper evaluation. Some potential causes of black gums include:

  • Ethnicity: Dark gums are more common in individuals with higher levels of melanin, which is a natural pigment found in the skin and other tissues. This can be a normal variation and not a sign of any underlying medical problem.
  • Smoking: Smoking can lead to gum discoloration and darkening over time due to the chemicals and tar in tobacco products.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as certain antimalarial drugs, can lead to gum hyperpigmentation as a side effect.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as Addison’s disease, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, or genetic disorders like Laugier-Hunziker syndrome, can cause gum hyperpigmentation.
  • Dental procedures: Gum grafting or other dental procedures can sometimes lead to changes in gum color.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, puberty, or menopause can cause changes in gum pigmentation.
  • Poor oral hygiene: Neglecting oral hygiene can lead to gum inflammation, which can, in turn, cause gum darkening. This is especially true for conditions like gingivitis or periodontitis.
  • Metal-based restorations: The presence of metal-based dental restorations, such as amalgam fillings or metal crowns, near the gumline can sometimes lead to a gray or black appearance in the surrounding gum tissue.
  • Trauma: Injury or trauma to the gums can lead to changes in pigmentation as the tissue heals.

Treatment for black gums depends on the underlying cause. If the discoloration is due to a medical condition, medication, or a dental issue, addressing the root cause can lead to an improvement in gum color. In some cases, cosmetic procedures like gum depigmentation (gingival depigmentation) can be performed by a dentist or periodontist to lighten the gum tissue.

If you’re concerned about the color of your gums or have noticed a change in their appearance, it’s best to seek guidance from a dental professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.