What Are Those Dark Spots On Your Gums?

Any dark spots on your teeth can indicate decay, and it's important to schedule an appointment with your dentist so those probable cavities can be filled. Sure, it's a nuisance, but it's far preferable to what will happen if you don't get those cavities treated. But what about dark spots on your gums? Although noticing such a development might be alarming, it might surprise you to learn that this problem is generally solved with cosmetic dentistry.

An Inspection

The first thing a dentist will do is visually inspect the dark spots. Your dentist must be sure that the spots aren't lesions, which can indicate an undetected injury or illness, but generally, all it takes is a look. Once it has been confirmed that these dark spots aren't anything sinister, you might begin to wonder—why have dark spots started to appear on your gums?


The dark spots are melanocytes (a type of cell found in your gingival tissue) that have produced an excessive amount of melanin (a naturally occurring pigment). While the sudden prominence of these melanin spots can be surprising, they're not going to harm you; however, they can be aggravated by something that can be very harmful indeed.


Although they're likely to already know the answer by looking at your teeth, your dentist will ask you if you're a smoker. When the abnormal melanin pigmentation appears in smokers, it can be that the irregularity is caused by (or at least severely aggravated by) the act of smoking. The problem will usually dissipate by itself—but only if you stop smoking. Of course, this is easier said than done, but this might be the ideal opportunity to finally give up the habit. But what happens when you have abnormal melanin pigmentation and don't actually smoke? 

Gum Depigmentation

When there's no history of smoking, the appearance of abnormal melanin pigmentation is thought to be due to genetic factors. While this might sound vague, the important thing to remember is that the spots are only an aesthetic issue and won't cause any health problems. But since these will not dissipate by themselves, your dentist will perform a procedure known as laser gum depigmentation. This is focused on the melanocytes, and the depigmentation process diminishes their ability to produce melanin, meaning that once the tissue heals (which won't be long), those dark spots will be history.

The appearance of dark spots on your gums definitely needs to be investigated, but the likelihood is that you'll need to give up smoking or undergo a minor cosmetic dentistry procedure.