Our gums typically display a reddish-pink color when they’re healthy. The color of our gums suddenly changing can be an indicator that something is off-balance in our mouths, such as a bacterial infection. This color change could be the cause of something serious like oral cancer, or it could be as simple as a nutrient deficiency that needs to be addressed. Whatever the cause, it’s important to find the root of the problem and begin looking for a solution with a dental provider so you can ensure you have a healthy mouth moving forward.
What Causes White Gums?
If you find yourself concerned by the change in your gum color, here are some common causes that may be the reason behind this change.
A canker sore is a mouth ulcer or small lesion that develops inside of the mouth. These small ulcers can occur due to a lack of nutrition or increased stress. This can shift the bacterial microbiome inside the mouth, leading to the whitening of gums as your mouth is inflamed with small sores.
Candida is a buildup of fungus and yeast that can occur anywhere in the body. When candida spreads to the mouth, it irritates the lining of the tissue in the gums and shifts the level of healthy bacteria that keeps the gums a light red or pink color.
When we don’t get enough iron in our diets, it can cause our bodies to become anemic. Anemia is also a side effect of a lack of vitamin B-12, which is typically consumed in the form of animal products or over-the-counter supplements. The lack of red blood cells from these crucial nutrients can cause white gums.
Gingivitis is commonly caused by poor oral hygiene practices, such as not flossing or brushing your teeth enough. The lack of cleanliness causes plaque buildup over time and inflames the gums. The inflammation can cause redness, itching, bleeding, and gum discoloration, or white gums.
The most serious cause of white gums is oral cancer. Oral cancer can develop on the tissues of the gums, tongue, and the back of the throat. When it spreads, it produces bumps inside the mouth and changes the color of otherwise normal, healthy gums. It is able to spread quickly and can be fatal if not treated in a timely manner.
What Symptoms Can Accompany White Gums?
White gums don’t typically appear alone and usually coincide with other symptoms that can be helpful to understand when determining future treatment. Some other symptoms often associated with white gums include:
How Can I Prevent White Gums?
White gums have the potential to be avoided if proper health precautions are taken. Some white gum prevention methods include:
What White Gum Treatments Are There?
There are a variety of different treatment options for white and discolored gums. Before deciding what treatment you need, you will need an assessment with a health provider to narrow down the specific root cause for your individual case. Here are some common treatments for white gums.
Laser cleansing of the mouth is commonly used to remove contaminants through laser ablation. These contaminants are able to be removed through beams of light on the teeth as a method of cleansing the bad bacteria present in the mouth.
If the cause of your white gums is a vitamin deficiency like anemia, a provider would recommend incorporating foods that contain iron and B-12 in your diet. If you are a vegetarian and cannot consume foods that contain a high amount of these vitamins, dietary supplements may be used as a substitute.
Antifungal medications can clear the growth of candida fungus in your mouth and anywhere else in your body. Once the fungus begins clearing in the mouth, the healthy bacteria can be restored in the gums and bring them back to a healthy color.
If you find out from a medical professional that your white gums are because of oral cancer growth, you will need to work with an oncologist to prescribe you custom care for your situation such as chemotherapy, radiation, or other cancer trials.
If you have concerns about white gums, contact your dentist to schedule an appointment today for further evaluation.
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Meet our Family of Dentists
Dr. Standish has been serving Clay County patients at Eagle Harbor Dental for over 30 years. His daughters Dr. Kelly & Dr. Erin joined the practice and they’ve been creating beautiful smiles as a family ever since. With extensive educations and memberships, our dentists are the best that Fleming Island has to offer.
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