What Your Gum Color Means

I have several patients who visit my practice for black gums treatment from all around the world. And although dark gums usually have a genetic link and are not necessarily related to disease, your gum color can provide clues about your overall health. Here are some of the gum discolorations I frequently treat and the possible causes of each.

Black gums: Generally, black gums are due to genetic factors. Dark gum pigmentation can affect all races and ethnicities, but it is especially common among people from the Middle East or Southern Africa. However, a person may develop dark spots on their gums as a result of poor oral hygiene, smoking, certain medication and gum diseases. Nutrition deficiencies and certain systemic diseases can also cause a darkening of the gums as well.

Dark red: The primary culprit of dark red gums is usually poor dental hygiene. The deep red or purplish hue is often the result of inflammation and may be indicative of gum disease. Oftentimes people with dark red gums suffer from bleeding or pain during brushing and flossing.

Grey, blue, or black spots: These may be caused by silver fillings or metal portion of a crown (cap) adjacent to gum tissue. They are also seen among people with melanoma, which is an extremely dangerous and aggressive type of cancer and should be assessed immediately. The cancer usually appears as a dark black spot and may then increase in size and shape as it grows. The color may also change, sometimes turning to tan, brown, or black mixed with grey.

Yellow or brown spots: Yellow or brown spots on the gums may be the result of calcified deposits formed from hardened plaque. This residue, called “calculus,” can form on and under the gum line as well between the teeth. Usually this condition results from a lack brushing and flossing and can lead to gum disease.

Light pink or peach: Smile – your gums are probably healthy. However, even people with pink gums may have some form of gum disease so color alone should not be used as an indicator of total gum health.


If you have any of the symptoms listed above, contact a periodontist to set up an evaluation. He or she will be able to recommend the appropriate treatment plan.

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