Black Gums: Normal or a Sign of Big Problems?

The sky is blue. Apples are red. Gums are pink.


Bit of a trick question there. Yes, all those statements are true. Just not all the time.

The sky can be a magical mix of purples, pinks and oranges at sunset.

Apples can be green or yellow too.

And gums, well, they aren’t always pink.

Sometimes gums are black.

If you have black gums or saw someone with black gums you may be wondering… are black gums normal?

The answer is… it depends.

In many situations, yes, black gums are totally normal. Some gums are just naturally darker than others (especially in non-Caucasians). The gums can also be dark spotted and/or have no pink in them at all. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with gums like this.

Other times, black gums are a sign of a problem.

There are a number of things that can cause gums to darken over time. Five biggies include…

  1. Smoking cigarettes.
  2. Stress
  3. Poor Nutrition
  4. Bad oral hygiene.
  5. Medication including some anti-depressants. (If gums darken after you start taking a new med, consult your doc to see if there are any other options. Though dark gums likely won’t harm you.)

If your gums normally are pink but you notice that they’re turning black, it could be a sign of disease.

Black gum disease is also called acute necrotizing periodontal disease. And it’s about as nasty as it sounds.

With this disease, the discoloration is due to dead tissue and is a very serious medical condition. Symptoms those with black gum disease have include bleeding gums, intense pain and foul breath. Left untreated, this can spread to cartilage and your bone.

Black Gums Treatment

If you’ve developed black gums, there are some simple things you can do yourself to try to lighten up your gums again. Partly the treatment depends on the cause.

Black gums due to poor oral hygiene? Try brushing and flossing twice a day.

Due to smoking? Quit smoking (we know… easier said than done).

Stress turning your pink gums, black? Try reducing stress through things like yoga or sticking pins in a voodoo doll that looks like your ex!

Another option – if your gums are otherwise healthy – is Gum Depigmentation.

The gum depigmentation process involves the use of a laser which reacts with the water in your gums that lightens and evens out the color. The laser vaporizes and removes the thin top layer of your gum tissue. This destroys the melanin producing cells and, as you heal, the new tissue that’s created tends to be pink instead of black or brown

Dark Gum Concerns?

If you suddenly notice that previously pink gums have turned black, go to your dentist and get checked out. Especially if you have other symptoms like bleeding gums. Don’t put off treatment and take the risk of making a bad problem worse.

To find a dentist near you that can help with determine if your black gums are normal or the sign of trouble, visit our listings here.