A Root Canal

What To Do If Dental Implants Cause Gum Tissue To Darken

You peer into the mirror to get a good look at your smile after getting dental implants, and that's when you notice it. The gum tissue near where the implant was placed is darker than the rest of your gums. Discolored gum tissue is not uncommon after getting dental implants, but here is what you should do if you notice it and a couple of ideas on how to correct the problem.

Check for Disease

More often than not, gum discoloration after getting implants is actually caused by the color of the titanium posts used to anchor the crown. These posts are usually a dark grey color, and can show through if the gum tissue is thin or translucent enough. You may also experience a discoloration problem if the post wasn't placed deep enough or set too far forward in the jaw. This may or may not cause long-term problems and should be checked by your dentist to ensure the tooth is secure.

However, sometimes discoloration is caused by disease. In particular, you may have developed necrotizing periodontal disease. This is a rare infection caused by bacteria and usually starts out as necrotizing periodontal gingivitis. The presence and activity of the bacteria kills the gum tissue, and it turns grey or black as result. If left untreated, the disease can cause a complete loss of gum tissue, bone, and cartilage in the area and eventually your tooth and/or implant may fall out.

Signs of necrotizing periodontal disease include:

  • Rapid onset of pain
  • Foul odor
  • Inflammation and redness of the gum tissues in the beginning
  • Greying or darkening of gum tissue as the disease advances
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loose teeth (or implants)

If you're exhibiting any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your dentist, someone like NYC Center for Dental Implants, right away for treatment.

Tissue Transplant

If your gums are healthy and the dentist determines the problem is the color of the post bleeding through the gums, one option you have to fix the issue is to get a tissue transplant. This is where the dentist takes tissue from another part of the mouth (usually the roof) and grafts it onto the gums. Alternatively, the doctor may use an artificial material that will stimulate the gums into regrowing naturally.

In either case, this option can help thicken the gums enough to hide the discoloration caused by the implant. Be aware, though, that skin grafts are a serious dental procedure. You may not be able to use that part of your mouth until the gums have fully healed, which can take one to two weeks. During that time, you will also usually be required to follow a soft-food diet, so be sure to discuss this procedure with your family physician first if you have any food-sensitive medical issues such as diabetes.

Gum Whitening Treatment

The color in gum tissue is produced by melanocytes, which are responsible for melanin production in the skin as well. Sometimes when trauma occurs in the gum tissue, the body may overproduce melanin in response. This can cause discoloration in otherwise healthy gums. One way to correct this overproduction is to undergo a gum whitening procedure.

The most common gum whitening procedure involves using a laser to destroy some of the melanocytes in the discolored area. This results in less melanin production, and the gum tissue will lighten naturally. Another whitening procedure involves applying a special gel to the gum surface and then scrubbing away excess melanocytes using a buffing tool. Both procedures can be done in one office visit. However, neither is usually covered by health or dental insurance, so you would have to pay for it yourself.

For more information about or solutions for dealing with discolored gums after a dental implant procedure, contact a cosmetic dentist near you.