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Are Your Black Gums an Embarrassment for You?

Smile expresses happiness. Smile is influenced not only by the position, shape and color of teeth but also the appearance of gums. Gums have an essential role to play for enhancing our smile. They make our overall appearance beautiful and we all wish to have pink and healthy gums. Slightly darkening of gums tends to make us self-conscious about our face. If dark-colored gums make you feel self-conscious and you’re looking for a more pleasing smile, don’t despair — they can be treated.

The gum discoloration may be present in patches.  The extent of gum discoloration and the intensity is different for different individuals. You may be quite concerned if you happen to notice that your gums have turned black, grey, or white. Dark pigmented gums don’t mean that they are unhealthy and are not an indication of a disease. In most circumstances, black gums aren’t painful, but they can make you feel uneasy about your appearance or too uncomfortable to smile.

On the other hand, these patches can be more than just an unpleasing look. While some gum discoloration is a natural occurrence, in some instances, your gums could turn black in color, as an indication of an underlying health problem that needs to be treated as soon as possible. At times, poor oral hygiene or lifestyle choices could also lead to darkening of the gums.

Dentists in India are seeing an increased awareness in patients regarding gum health.

For example if your gums appear dark or blackened, this condition might be due to heredity, ethnic background, certain medications or diseases, or an advanced form of periodontal disease or gingivitis. When the root of the problem is periodontal disease or gingivitis, the condition can be quite painful and demands medical attention.

The main culprit behind this is the black pigment known as Melanin. It is seen as the genetic trait. Just as skin color can vary, so can gum color.

Sometimes the gums may appear dark or black due to a higher concentration of melanin or imbalances in pigmentation. The production of melanin increases manifolds in the presence of sunlight. Since excessive sun exposure causes melanin in the skin to darken, it can even cause melanin in the gums to get darker.

This condition occurs most commonly in darker-skinned races, but it can occur in any race. The individuals who are involved in outdoor activity tend to have darker gums. Even the children who are more active outdoor and at the same time have gummy smile are more prone to have dark gums. Once the gums become dark during the childhood they tend to stay that way. The gums around the teeth tend to become dark but the part of the gums which is hidden under the lips has natural pink color.

Cosmetic procedures like gum depigmentation are getting popular in reputed dental clinics in Delhi.

Some common causes and reasons for gum discoloration-

Poor oral hygiene: Gum diseases can occur because of poor oral hygiene which may cause gums pigmentation. There is inflammation, redness and bleeding in case of gum diseases which may cause darkening of the gums.

Smoking: Smoking also causes dark gums. Tobacco consumers also have darker gums in comparison to non-tobacco consumers.

Medications: Some medication like minocycline, antimalarial agents, tricyclic antidepressants can also cause dark gums.

Medical conditions: Some diseases are marked by an increase in melanin pigmentation. The rare endocrine disorder Addison’s disease, the hereditary intestinal disease Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and the bone ailment Von Recklinghausen’s disease can all cause patches of darkening and discoloration that can affect the gums as well as other parts of the body.

Metallic fillings: The metallic fillings which get corroded can also cause dark gums.

White gums: This can be caused by several things. The first being what is called thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth. To treat this, your dentist will scrape off the fungus from areas of the gums and give you proper instructions on how to keep the fungus from returning. Another cause of white gums is a condition known as leukoplakia, a precancerous condition that often occurs due to tobacco or alcohol. This condition also calls for a dentist to be consulted to take steps to prevent any further damage.

There could be a number of reasons why gums appear dark/ pigmented or black. Some people develop spotty gums after they get certain types of dental treatment, such as dentures, fillings, and crowns.

Dentists in India Amalgam tattoo

After having silver filling some debris from the filling can be lodged in the gum and the gum can look dark blue/ black. This is called an amalgam tattoo and is harmless.

There are also other reasons for gum discoloration that cause a higher concern. Black gums may also be a symptom of acute necrotizing periodontal disease, also known as black gum disease. The black coloration of the gums is a result of dead tissue, or necrosis. This is a serious health issue, with symptoms that can also include spontaneous bleeding, the rapid onset of pain, a foul odor from the mouth, and gum tissue that appears blunted between the teeth, not the typical conical shape seen in healthy gums. Along with improper oral care, factors that may contribute to this condition include stress, poor nutrition, smoking, and viral infections such as HIV. If left untreated, the disease can spread to the cartilage and bones surrounding the teeth.

You can treat acute necrotizing periodontal disease with antibiotics or by surgically removing the dead tissue.

Apart from this serious disease, some cases of black gums could also be a symptom of oral infections, necrosis or dead tissue of the gums, internal bleeding, HIV / AIDS, malignant melanoma which needs to be treated.

These conditions are quite serious and require immediate medical attention. If medication does not restore the color and health of your gums, you may need to get the damaged tissue surgically removed by the dentist. Oxygen therapy can also be quite effective in the treatment of black gums as it can help reduce the damage to gum tissue caused by harmful bacteria.

Patients are being counseled about gum health and esthetics routinely in dental Clinics in India.

Treatment of dark gums

Treatment of the dark gums is possible. The blackness of the dark gums is merely superficial. When the outer dark colored layer is removed, the pink aesthetic looking gums appear.

Darkened gums that gained their color due to damage & disease can be treated with antibiotics or by surgically removing the damaged tissue. Oxygen therapy, used in conjunction with systemic antibiotics, can also help reduce the damage to gum tissue caused by harmful bacteria.

Dentists in Delhi are becoming experts in treating dark gums by both surgical (conventional) and laser method.

Surgical method is the most popular effective and simple method for removing the dark colored layer of the gums that reveals the pink colored tissue underneath. The procedure though surgical is a painless outdoor procedure carried out under local anesthesia.

In this procedure the outer layer of gum epithelium is removed with a layer of underlying connective tissue. After the removal the connective tissue it is left to heal. After the healing process the new epithelium which is formed is devoid of dark pigmentation.

The positive results can be seen within one to two days. After this procedure 20 to 30% of the pigmentation returns after 5 to 6 months and then stays as such. If few precautions like not exposing oneself for long hours to sunlight are observed then the gums stay pink and there is marked improvement in aesthetics.

Dentists in India

Another treatment to treat the dark pigmentation of gums is the Gum bleaching which is done using the lasers known as the water lease system. It is a safe and efficient treatment. It causes alteration of melanin pigment in gingival tissues and produces esthetic pink gums. It is quick, painless and gives good results. The dark gums can be made pink and healthy in a single one hour visit. The results are permanent. The melanin pigment which is the cause of the dark gums does not comeback.

Before going for the treatment the cause of the discoloration should be known. If the gums are unhealthy and they have the signs and symptoms of gum disease like bleeding swelling or inflammation then first of all before going for the gum bleaching the underlying infection has to be treated.

When the gums are healthy only then the gum bleaching should be carried out. If the person is a smoker, then he has to quit smoking before going for the gum bleaching.

Benefits of Gum Bleaching:

There are many benefits of gum bleaching:

a.   In a single visit the dark spots or the dark looking gums can be given esthetically pleasant looking appearance
b.   It boosts the confidence of the patient. Now the patient can smile without looking embarrassed.
c.   It is quick, less time consuming and gives good results
d.   Healing is very quick and patient does not feel any discomfort afterwards.

Complications and Recovery after going for Gum Surgery

There are absolutely no complications after the gum surgery and there is no discomfort. The patient can talk and eat normally after the gum beaching procedure. In some cases where the gums are very sensitive the patient can feel minor discomfort but that to goes with healing which is very quick.

Post Operative Care after Gum Surgery

There is no special post operative care after the gum bleaching. The good oral hygiene has to be maintained like proper brushing and flossing. Those who smoke has to quit smoking at least till the time the proper healing takes place.

Now with the treatment options like laser surgery for gum bleaching having pink gums is not a distant dream. One can easily have beautiful smile but maintaining them is essential.

Of course, the best way to battle gum discoloration is by practicing proper oral care and brushing and flossing everyday along with visiting a dentist once every six months.

Smile makeovers which are being done in dental clinics in Delhi are addressing both teeth and gum esthetics.

Posted By – Dr. Shriya