Why Do Gums Get Black? 10 Causes

Medically Reviewed on 11/11/2021

10 black gum causes

gums are black
Black gums or gum discoloration is often due to an underlying health issue, such as the following.

The normal color of the gums can range from red to pink. Some people have brownish or darker gums due to the natural melanin pigment, while some may have black gums from birth due to other reasons, such as certain medications taken by their pregnant mother.

However, if your red or pink gum color has recently changed to black, it may be due to an underlying health issue.

Gums become black due to any of the following conditions:

  1. Poor oral hygiene:
    • Poor oral hygiene, such as not brushing or flossing your teeth daily, can cause accumulation of plaque and tartar near the gums that result in gum discoloration and lead to gum disease.
    • You may need deep dental cleaning for excessive plaque or tartar.
  2. Smoking:
    • Tobacco smoking causes brown to blackish discoloration in the form of patches in your mouth, including your gums, lower lip, and cheeks.
    • The effect is due to the nicotine that stimulates the melanin-producing cells known as melanocytes to produce more melatonin.
  3. Medications:
    • Some medications that cause black gums include
    • Let your doctor know if you have experienced black gums after taking any of these medications. Your doctor may provide you with an alternative medication.
  4. Amalgam tattoo:
    • Amalgam tattoos are black, blue, or grey patches that appear inside your mouth, including the gums.
    • They are caused by the deposition of amalgam (mixture used for fillings in crowns) in your gums.
  5. Pregnancy:
    • In the absence of good oral hygiene, pregnancy increases your tendency to accumulate plaque in your teeth and may even cause inflammation of the gums, leading to dark gums.
  6. Teething period:
    • The teething period in babies usually occurs at six to nine months of age.
    • As the teeth come in, the gums may become a little swollen and red or even turn black.
  7. Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis:
  8. Addison’s disease:
    • Addison’s disease is a disorder of the adrenal glands that produces many hormones. In the absence of adequate hormones, the disorder can cause symptoms and signs that include
    • Dark spots of skin may develop over the knees and knuckles, in the creases of the palms, and around scars.
  9. Peutz-Jeghers syndrome:
    • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is a hereditary condition that causes polyp formation in the gastrointestinal tract. It can cause the appearance of dark blue or dark brown freckles in the mouth and on the skin of the fingers and toes.
  10. Oral cancer:

How are black gums treated?

Many times, black gums go away if the cause is removed. For example, quitting smoking can restore oral health and healthy gum color. Other preventable causes include following proper oral hygiene as prescribed by a dentist.

If black gums are caused by conditions such as Addison’s disease, your doctor will treat the underlying condition to control its progression.

If you want to get rid of black patches on your gums for cosmetic reasons, your dentist may recommend the following options:

  • Removing the black or darkened gum tissue with a scalpel
  • Cryosurgery (freezing the affected gum tissue)
  • Free gingival grafting (removing a piece of normal-colored tissue from the roof of the mouth and stitching it to the black gums)

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Medically Reviewed on 11/11/2021
Image Source: iStock Images

Disorders of Oral Pigmentation. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1078143-overview

Kato T, Takiuchi H, Sugiyama S, et al. Measurement of reduced gingival melanosis after smoking cessation: A novel analysis of gingival pigmentation using clinical oral photographs. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016;13(6):598.

Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/peutz-jeghers-syndrome/cipeutz-jeghers-syndromeprinter