False Teeth - Making the Right Choices

Do You Have Dark Spots On Your Gums? Here's What You Should Know

Do you have dark, discolored spots on your gums? If so, here's a few things that you should know about their causes as well as how to get rid of them.

1.) The condition is probably benign.

Those dark spots on your gums are areas of hyperpigmentation. They're usually caused by excess deposits of melanin pigment, the substance that gives your body its color. Whether or not you get them is largely thought to be genetic, because they're more common in people with darker skin. Other common causes of benign hyperpigmentation of the gums include smoking, medication use, and tiny particles that have out of silver dental fillings.

2.) You should still have them examined.

Hyperpigmentation of the gums can be caused by hidden medical problems. Even though it's nothing to panic about, especially if you don't feel sick, the dark spots on your gums could be an early symptom of Addison's disease. Addison's disease occurs when your adrenal glands don't function properly and stop producing enough cortisol and aldosterone, which are necessary for your body to function properly.  It can also be a sign of Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS). PJS puts you at higher risk of developing certain cancers and causes intestinal polyps.

Even if the aesthetic appearance of the spots on your gums isn't bothering you, have a dentist examine so that he or she can determine whether the cause is benign or the result of a more serious medical problem.

3.) They can be removed by gum bleaching.

If the dark spots detract from your otherwise healthy, beautiful smile, consider having a depigmentation procedure done on your gums. This is often called "gum bleaching," but it's actually the removal of the outer layer of your discolored gums. 

4.) There are several different procedures being used.

There are two common methods for removing the discolored gum tissue. The most common method is to surgically cut away the discolored areas, using a local anesthetic. A new upper layer of gum tissue will grow back, restoring your gums to their naturally pink color. Its cost is low, starting at around $700, and is often covered by insurance. The dark spos can return over time, as your body produces and deposits more melanin.

The use of lasers to achieve gum depigmentation is also fairly common, but it's also more expensive. The cost starts at around $2,000 and increases with the amount of area that has to be treated. The benefits of the procedure include the actual destruction of the melanocytes in the gumline, which is what produces the melanin. That stops the spots from returning for up to 20 years.

If you have dark spots on your gum, consider talking to a cosmetic dentist like Morrell M Russell DMD about them. You at least want to know why the spots are there. If their appearance bothers you, you can discuss the best way to remove them.