It can be an unpleasant surprise, when you are flossing your teeth, you look in the mirror, and you notice a black or grey spot on your gums. At this point you are probably wondering – is this spot no big deal, or is it something you should have checked out by your dentist right away?
You can relax – the odds are that this spot on your gums is nothing more than something called an “amalgam tattoo.” These are harmless and are the result of having amalgam fillings.
Nowadays tooth fillings are made of composite/ceramic materials, but if you are over a certain age you may have some that were made of materials such as silver, copper, tin, and mercury. Over time, these fillings can sink down into other tissues, such as the gums. Or, when your dentist is working on a tooth with an amalgam filling, such as when he or she is drilling out tooth decay or removing a filling, part of it may get pushed into these other tissues.
Are they dangerous?
Thankfully, no – amalgam tattoos are fairly common and nothing to worry about. However, you should know that mucosal melanomas and amalgam tattoos look very similar, and mucosal melanomas should be treated as soon as possible.
Mucosal melanomas are a rare but deadly form of cancer. They typically occur in people who have used tobacco for a long time. You may notice a spot in your mouth, and other symptoms include dentures that don’t fit as well as they used to and pain and swelling in the mouth. Your dentist will perform an examination and x-ray the spot to determine what it is.
If you have a dark spot on your gums, the odds are that it is a harmless amalgam tattoo. However, if you think it might be mucosal melanoma (especially if you have used tobacco for many years), you should see your dentist right away.
If you ever have any questions about your oral health, call to make an appointment at the Konig Center for Cosmetic and Comprehensive Dentistry in Houston, Texas. Call (713) 668-2289 today!