A Look at the Root Causes of Black Gums

From Melanotic Macules to Cancer: A Closer Look at the Causes of Black Gums


If you’ve noticed dark spots on your gums, you might be concerned about the potential health implications. While black gums are often a natural pigmentation in individuals with darker skin tones, new or sudden black patches could be indicative of an underlying health issue. From benign melanotic macules to more serious conditions like cancer, there are several possible causes of black gums. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the different reasons why your gums may have turned black and what you can do about it.

Melanotic Macules

Melanotic macules are one of the most common causes of black gums. These are small, flat spots that appear on the skin and mucous membranes, including the gums. While they can appear in anyone, they are more common in people with dark skin tones.

Melanotic macules on the gums typically appear as flat, dark spots, and are usually harmless. They may be present from birth or develop over time. Although they are not a cause for concern, some people may find them aesthetically unappealing.

If you have dark gums and suspect that you may have melanotic macules, it’s important to consult with your dentist or healthcare provider to rule out any other underlying health conditions. In most cases, treatment is not necessary, but if the spots are bothersome, there are cosmetic treatments available that can help to reduce their appearance.


One of the most common causes of black gums is smoking. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of harmful chemicals, which can cause staining and discoloration on your teeth and gums. Over time, the tar and nicotine in cigarettes can accumulate on your gums and create dark spots or patches.

Dark gums are not only unsightly but also a sign of potential gum disease and other oral health problems. Smoking also increases the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss, making it important to quit smoking if you are a smoker.

If you are a smoker, consider quitting smoking or seeking professional help to help you quit. You may also want to consult with your dentist to explore options for removing or reducing the appearance of dark gums caused by smoking. It is important to remember that smoking not only affects your oral health but also your overall health, and quitting smoking is a crucial step towards a healthier and happier life.

Black Gums
Black Gums

Amalgam Tattoos

Amalgam tattoos are a common cause of black gums, especially for people who have had dental fillings in the past. An amalgam tattoo occurs when small particles of silver, tin, or copper from dental fillings get embedded into the gums. Over time, these particles can turn the gums a bluish-grey or black color.

While amalgam tattoos are generally harmless, they can sometimes be mistaken for more serious health issues like oral cancer. Therefore, it’s important to visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and to report any changes in the color or appearance of your gums.

If your amalgam tattoo is causing discomfort or affecting the aesthetics of your smile, your dentist may recommend removing it through a simple surgical procedure. However, it’s important to note that the removal of an amalgam tattoo can also cause further discoloration or scarring of the gums.

In summary, if you have black gums and have had dental fillings in the past, it’s possible that you have an amalgam tattoo. While these tattoos are generally harmless, it’s important to stay vigilant about any changes in the color or appearance of your gums and to consult with your dentist if you have any concerns.


Certain medications and illegal drugs can cause pigmentation changes in the gums. Antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine and quinacrine can cause darkening of the gums, while the use of minocycline, an antibiotic, can result in blue-black discoloration of the gums. Additionally, drugs used to treat high blood pressure such as beta-blockers and some antipsychotics have also been associated with darkening of the gums.

If you notice a change in the color of your gums after starting a new medication or drug, it’s important to inform your healthcare provider. They may recommend switching to an alternative medication or changing the dosage to alleviate the side effect. Discontinuing the drug on your own is not recommended without consulting your healthcare provider.

In addition to medication-induced pigmentation, the use of illegal drugs such as cocaine can also cause gum discoloration. The repeated use of cocaine can lead to the destruction of gum tissue, resulting in dark spots on the gums.

It’s important to note that drugs should only be taken under the guidance and prescription of a healthcare professional. Illegal drug use can have severe consequences on overall health, including the gums. Seek help from a healthcare provider or addiction specialist if you are struggling with drug addiction.

Systemic Disorders

Systemic disorders are medical conditions that affect the whole body, including the gums. These disorders can cause a change in the pigmentation of the gums, resulting in black or dark spots. Here are some of the systemic disorders that can cause black gums:

1. Addison’s disease – This is a disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones. One of the symptoms of Addison’s disease is hyperpigmentation of the skin, including the gums.

2. Hemochromatosis – This is a disorder in which the body absorbs too much iron from the diet. The excess iron can deposit in the gums and cause them to turn black.

3. Peutz-Jeghers syndrome – This is a rare genetic disorder that causes polyps to grow in the digestive tract. The polyps can cause dark spots on the lips, gums, and mouth.

4. Laugier-Hunziker syndrome – This is a benign condition that causes hyperpigmentation of the lips, gums, and nails.

If you have black gums and suspect that you have a systemic disorder, you should see your doctor immediately. Your doctor may perform blood tests or a biopsy of the affected tissue to diagnose the underlying condition.

Treatment for black gums caused by systemic disorders usually involves managing the underlying condition. For example, if you have hemochromatosis, your doctor may recommend phlebotomy (blood removal) to reduce your body’s iron levels. If you have Addison’s disease, you may need to take hormone replacement therapy.

In summary, black gums can be caused by various systemic disorders. If you have black gums, it is important to see your doctor to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.