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What Can Be Done About Brown or Black Areas on the Gums?

Natural pigment (brown areas) on the gums.

You, or someone you know may have discolorations on the gums that look like the photo of our patient above. The areas shown here are melanotic macules or flat brown or black pigmented areas.  They are harmless and may have been present since birth.  Doctors 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.  Areas of concern should be evaluated by a dentist, an oral surgeon or your doctor or medical specialist.

Healed tissue about one week after treatment with a laser. The patient wanted to see the results before doing more treatment!

Gentle surgery with the Waterlase to remove the brown pigmented areas


In our office we are now using a laser, the Waterlase, to gently remove these brown or black pigmented areas (spots) when they are a concern.  The procedure is easy and often can be done with just topical anesthetic.  And the results are amazing!  Take a look!  The photo above shows healed tissue about one week after treatment with a Waterlase.  This patient wanted to test the results before scheduling for the whole mouth.  When I phoned a couple hours after the surgery, our patient was exercising at the health club and noted no discomfort.  Gums felt especially smooth but no other sensations really.  Healing was uneventful.

Brown or black pigmented areas before treatment.

Waterlase ‘lifting’ the brown areas on the gums.


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.  Look very closely at least once per month to get to know your mouth.  Look more often if you notice anything that concerns you.  (See blogs on ‘Oral Cancer Exam’ or ‘Examining the soft tissues of your mouth’) How should you do this?

  • You need a good mirror and a good light
  • Smile widely and look at the teeth and gums as far back as you can
  • Stick our your tongue and try to look all the way back and on both sides of the tongue.  Look at the underside of the tongue and what we call the ‘floor’ of your mouth.
  • Tilt your head back and look closely at the soft and hard palate.
  • Look at the insides of the cheeks on both sides
  • Look as far back into your throat as you can
  • Well done!

If you want to get more information about brown or black pigmented areas on your gums (or on someone you know!) our office in Grand Junction, Colorado would be happy to see you for a consult.  We love being able to offer this gentle procedure for our patients!  Please call for more information at (970) 242-3535.

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS, AAACD

Restoring Teeth/Restoring Smiles