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Though black gums are not normal, they can usually be treated and are not typically a sign of a serious issue. For example, amalgam tattoos are dark spots that may form around fillings, dentures, and crowns. Calculus, which is a substance that can build up in the mouth when oral hygiene is lacking, can also cause dark areas on the gums. Unfortunately, black gums may also be a sign of malignant melanoma in the mouth, which is particularly difficult to treat. The good news is that dark gums can typically be avoided through sufficient oral hygiene that includes regular brushing, flossing, dental checkups, and avoidance of smoking and chewing tobacco.
Some people develop spotty gums after they get certain types of dental treatment, such as dentures, fillings, and crowns. Gum discoloration of this type is called an amalgam tattoo, which is caused when tiny pieces from a filling or cap wedge themselves into the gums. This issue often looks like a blue or black tattoo in the mouth, and though it is not desirable to those seeking a perfect smile, it is also harmless. Of course, amalgam tattoos can be removed by a dentist if preferred.
Another issue that may lead to black gums is calculus, which is technically hardened plaque, also called tartar. Though it is usually easily removed by a dentist, patients can frequently prevent it in the first place by brushing and flossing regularly to remove plaque. The result of calculus is a group of yellow or black spots that appear on the gum line, and if not taken care of by a dentist, these spots may lead to receding gums and breath that smells unpleasant. If the issue is not brought to a dentist's attention to be treated, it may lead to gum disease in the future.
Despite the fact that most causes of black gums are treatable, there is still some cause for concern when this symptom is observed. This is because a dark spot can also be a sign of malignant melanoma inside the mouth, which is a rare form of skin cancer. As the cancer grows, the spot may increase in size, and might eventually look like a dark color mixed with gray or red. While most cases of skin cancer can be treated when caught early on, many cases of melanoma in the mouth cannot be solved since this area is difficult to reach. Additionally, by the time most patients notice the black gums, the disease has often already progressed past the point of treatment.