When to Discuss Color Changes and Spots in the Mouth With Your Dentist

  • Oct 20 2023

As a part of your oral health routine, you should regularly examine the appearance of your mouth. If you see spots or changes in the color of your gums and tongue, you may need to talk to a dentist to ensure you aren’t dealing with an underlying issue.

These are some of the most common spots or discolorations you might see — signs that you should schedule your next dental appointment today.

Dark Spots on Your Gums, Palate, or Inside of Your Cheeks

Seeing a dark spot in your mouth can be worrying, but it may be due to a harmless cause. It may be silver amalgam from a dental filling, graphite if you have a habit of chewing on pencils or even just an innocuous mole. 

Some brown spots are even hereditary. It’s also important to note that people with darker skin tones have natural brown spots on their gums and other oral tissues.

However, dark spots in your mouth could also point to cancers like oral melanoma. So while waiting for your next dental appointment, keep an eye on the spot to make sure it doesn’t change in size or shape. 

In any case, don’t fret. A dentist can examine the spot, accurately diagnose the cause, and provide you with the right treatment.

Tongue Discolorations

Tongue discoloration can arise from several causes. White spots are often caused by fungal overgrowth or infection, while dark marks might be an accumulation of dead skin cells that can fade with proper oral care. A dentist can tell you the cause of the discoloration and advise you accordingly. 

If you notice a scab or a wound that doesn’t improve or gets worse, or if the discoloration changes, don’t wait for your semiannual cleaning — make an appointment with your dentist to be examined soon.

Pale Gums

Healthy gums are pink. If you notice that yours are white or pale pink, it may be time to visit your dentist. It might be caused by anemia, which your dentist can help you treat and restore that healthy pink color.

If you’re a smoker, tobacco use might be the cause. Although the resulting pale gums are usually harmless, having your dentist look at them will ensure that they are not a sign of something more serious, like oral cancer. 

Red or Purple Spots

If some areas of your mouth are redder than others — or even purple — it may point to inflammation, trauma, or infection. This discoloration is also common with smokers and those with dry mouth symptoms, as they’re more likely to develop yeast infections. People with broken teeth or ill-fitting dentures may notice discoloration as well. In some cases, it’s simply due to blood vessels that are closer to the surface of the skin.

Because of all the potential reasons for red or purple discoloration, it’s vital to turn to your dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Getting an Accurate Diagnosis

While these are some of the most common abnormalities, the appearance of your mouth may change in other ways for any number of reasons. So while you’re now more educated on various spots and discolorations, you should in no way attempt to self-diagnose your oral issue. Nothing can replace the expertise of a dental professional, who you should make a point of seeing every six months. It’s the best way to safeguard your oral health.

If you’re worried about a spot in your mouth or a change in color, make an appointment today with Payam Cohen, D.D.S., P.C., in Queens, NY. Our office provides services such as family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and major procedural treatments.

Categories: Dental Health