Bellingham Dentist

When Your Gums Change Color

More Than Just A Color Change

Can you tell the health of your gums merely by their color?

Healthy gums should be somewhat a shade of pink. Gums may look lighter pink around the teeth and a bit darker pink in other areas. All healthy gums won’t look the same and may differ from person to person. Some have paler and some have darker gums. When your gum color starts to change, it may be time to see your dentist, especially if you notice any other symptoms.

What might be the underlying causes of gums changing color?

Anemia is one cause, when lack of oxygen causes tissues to become pale. Aside from pale gums, the anemic person suffers from general weakness, shortness of breath, yellowish skin and eyes, headaches and palpitations.

There may be some vitamin deficiency also, like iron, folate acid and vitamin B12 in an anemic person. These medical conditions can also lead to anemia: heavy menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, hypothyroidism, stomach ulcers, colitis, and certain liver, spleen, or kidney conditions. Chemotherapy can increase a person’s risk of developing anemia.

Another cause for anemia is oral leukoplakia which form uniform, thin, white patches on the gums that alternate with regular gum or mucous tissues. They can be raised, with red specks, or appear as white nodules; appearing anywhere in the mouth, they cannot be rubbed or scrubbed off. Alcoholics, smokers or those with poor oral hygiene can have them. Generally harmless, leukoplakia can be cancerous. They can be surgically removed if indicated.

Oral lichen planus are web-like, slightly raised white threads throughout the gums. They can be erosive involving ulcers or open sores, treatable using topical corticosteroids or systemic steroids. Though a biopsy may be necessary to rule out other medical issues, there is no cure for the condition. Symptoms can only be decreased as well as eating healthy and quitting smoking.

When do you seek medical or dental advice?

If you notice your gums are pale and they are accompanied by any or some of the following symptoms, you must seek consultation: bleeding, receding painful, tender or swollen gums, gum abscesses, bad breath, pain or discomfort when swallowing, loose teeth, a metallic taste in the mouth, pain in the jaw, or a fever.


Questions about gum health? Contact our Bellingham dentists.

If you are interested to know about the health state of your gums, make a visit to Tetrick Family Dentistry in Bellingham soon. Even if you don’t see symptoms, it’s always better to maintain and keep your gums healthy than later seek treatment.