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What Are the Dark Areas/Brown or Black Discolorations on My Gums?

First of all:

What Are the Dark Areas/Black Patches/Discolorations on My Gums?

Natural pigment on the gums.

You, or someone you know may have discolorations on the gums that look like the photo of our patient above. These areas shown here are melanotic macules or flat brown pigmented areas.  They are harmless and may have been present since birth.  Doctor are not exactly sure what causes these ‘freckle-like’ areas to occur.  Some people develop areas like this later in life.  It is important to know that they could be a symptom of another condition or disease such as Addison’s disease or Peutz-Jeghers syndrome or others.  The areas should be evaluated by a dentist, an oral surgeon or your doctor or medical specialist.

Our office would recommend that you take a very active role in understanding your mouth and gums.  It is smart to do a thorough mouth check at least monthly to get to know your mouth and what is there.  How should you do this?

  • Use a good light and mirror or magnifying mirror.
  • Check the top and bottom of your tongue.  It’s important to look as far back as you can by sticking your tongue out and saying Aaaaa.  Be sure to check the sides of your tongue as far back in your mouth as you can by moving your tongue from side to side as you stick it out of your mouth.
  • Check the inside of your cheeks.  Use the light.
  • Check your upper and lower gums.  Use a clean finger to pull your cheek from side to side.  Move your tongue away to try to see the inside of the gums as well.
  • Check your throat and the top of your mouth.
  • There are lots of odd things in there.  Take a picture of anything that seems unusual!

Melanotic macules or flat brown pigmented areas like the ones shown above don’t require treatment.  If you feel the discolorations are changing in any way (shape, color, size) you should definitely have the areas evaluated by your dentist or doctor.  A small biopsy could be take to confirm that the area is benign.   If your smile shows a lot of gums along with the teeth, flat brown pigmented areas on the gums may detract from the smile much the way age spots or  some birth marks may be considered unattractive.

In our office we complete a thorough examination of your mouth when you are first seen as a new patient in our practice and each time you come in for periodic cleanings and exams.  We take a full set of photos on each patient that includes photos of your gums.  We photograph anything unusual that we see.  We are often asked about the photos.  You would be amazed how often we refer to these photos!  We can evaluate pigmented areas like this over time and watch for any changes in the teeth or gums.  We are happy to share these photos if a surgeon needs more information.  Now here is the real teaser:  My next blog will be titled, “What Can Be Done About the Brown or Black Areas on My Gums!”  We will show you a cool laser treatment of this type of discoloration!  I’ll bet you can’t wait!

Please call our office at (970) 242-3635.  We are located in Western Colorado and we love taking the best care of our patients!  We would love for you to “Like” us on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/juliegillisddspc!

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS, PC

Restoring Health/Restoring Smiles