What Does It Mean If My Gums Change Color?

Gums can be an excellent indicator of overall health, which is why changes in the color or texture of the gums could be a sign that something is wrong elsewhere in the body, explains Accord Dental Professional LLC‘s Dr. Leon Vilner, a cosmetic dentist in Denver, Colorado.

Dr. Vilner says that gums are a vascular structure, which means that their overall color—whether they are especially dark or pale—is a signal to dentists when something is awry. Dentists always take note of the color of their patients’ gums, especially in cases where they appear to be a different shade than the last time the patient came in for an appointment.

According to Dr. Vilner, having gums that appear more pale than normal could be a signal that a person has anemia. Meanwhile, gums that seem too dark or red could be a signal that a person has too much blood rushing towards them—usually a sign of inflammation.

Inflammation in particular is something that Dr. Vilner says he encourages patients to watch out for, since it could be related to gum disease or periodontal disease. Either way, inflammation of the gums is certainly something that needs to be addressed by a dentist.

When someone has inflammation, possibly caused by periodontal disease, Dr. Vilner says that a  dentist will usually start by inquiring about that patient’s home care and oral hygiene habits. The main cause of periodontal disease in individuals is poor hygiene, since allowing dental plaque to accumulate on the teeth can certainly lead to this type of condition.

Interestingly, Dr. Vilner says that the plaque and bacteria that accumulate on the teeth are actually part of what causes inflammation of the gums throughout the area. More than just a simple annoyance though, he explains that inflammation of the gums could cause a loss of bone around the teeth that can eventually turn into periodontal disease.

Luckily, periodontal disease due to gum inflammation is a very preventable condition. With good oral hygiene and a bit of effort, Dr. Vilner believes that every person can keep his teeth and gums healthy and strong for a very long time.

Of course, periodontal disease isn’t the only condition that could be causing a change in color in the gums. Dr. Vilner says that certain systemic diseases could cause problems. In a healthy person, just a little bit of plaque might cause a very insignificant irritation along the gum line. In people with certain systemic conditions, however, that little bit of plaque could cause an enormous reaction. This reaction could involve overgrowth or hyperplasia of the gums along with bleeding and significant bone loss if not properly diagnosed. These are all serious issues that would need to be addressed by a dentist – and possibly a general physician – right away. Additionally, Dr. Vilner says that pregnancy, diabetes, and smoking—although hopefully not all at the same time—are also factors that could cause changes along a patient’s gum line.

Rather than wait for their conditions to get worse, Dr. Vilner recommends that people book an appointment with the dentist as quickly as possibly if they ever suspect that their gums are changing color.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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