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Gum Diseases

Gums turing black

12/05/2005

Question:

Hi, My Husband chews tobacco and i noticed his gums were begining to turn black in the lower part of hi s mouth where he puts his tobacoo. I`ve looked on the intenet, but can`t seem to find anything. Does anyone have any idea what it could be? I can`t seem to get him to go to the dentist either.

Answer:

Localized tissue irritation due to the presence of tobacco is well known and documented with research. Chewing tobacco causes tissue thickening (hyperkeratinization) and color changes (pigmentation).  These changes need to be followed very carefully by a dentist since they may become bigger in size and turn into cancer.  This is why most dentists perform a head and neck (including oral cavity) cancer screening at the initial appointment and look for various things including color change. 

We always recommend not chewing tobacco since we know that it induces formation of cancer-related lesions. The color change that you are noticing is probably due to irritation caused by tobacco. It does not mean that it is cancer, but it needs to be checked and followed.

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Response by:

Binnaz   Leblebicioglu, DDS, MS, PhD Binnaz Leblebicioglu, DDS, MS, PhD
Associate Professor of Periodontology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University