Tooth pain or bleeding gums are the two reasons why most of us seek medical attention. How many of us go to a dentist when we are down with white gums around teeth. Chances are few and far in between.
Any clue you have on white gums around teeth? Why does it happen? What makes gums look white around teeth when usually healthy gums are pink in colour? Let’s find out more about this oral condition in this article here.
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What Are White Gums?
White gums are nothing but discoloured gums. They may occur due to multiple reasons – right from poor dental hygiene habits to even more serious health issues like Oral cancer.
Hence, if you notice your gums appearing abnormally pale you must consult a doctor to find out the exact cause and the apt treatment for it.
What Causes White Gums?
Though the medical world is yet to determine the exact cause behind white gums around teeth, the following are the most common reasons why they develop:
This is a bacterial infection of the gums. What makes it happen? Poor brushing of teeth and flossing habits. Which is why gums turn white and begin to recede. Loose teeth, red and inflamed gums and bleeding gums (at the time of brushing or flossing) can cause gingivitis.
2. Canker sores:
Painful ulcers that occur in your oral cavity. They usually appear on the lower parts of the gums, underneath the tongue, even inside your cheeks. The canker sores cause a stinging pain every time you ingest anything.
What is the colour of canker sores?
Well, they have yellow or white centres. If they develop at the bottom of the gums, then they can make the gums look white. But if the white colour is all over your gum line, then canker sores are not to be blamed.
This is a medical condition in which the quantity of red blood cells in the body decreases. As you know, red blood cells (RBCs) are essential to supply oxygen throughout the body.
Anaemia can happen due to multiple reasons – either due to poor intake of iron (in most anaemia cases, lack of iron is the foremost reason) or even vitamin B 12 in your diet.
Pale skin, therefore, is a natural fall-out of anaemia. This condition in acute cases may also affect your gums leading to white gums around teeth.
4. Oral Candidiasis:
Also called THRUSH, Oral candidiasis is a kind of yeast infection which develops inside the mouth. The fungal infection may look white or red (sometimes both at the same time). But if the fungus spreads to gums, then they will look white in colour.
The gums turning white around teeth are also called “Leukoplakia”.
The Mayo Clinic defines leukoplakia as a condition where thick, white spots form on the gums, the bottom of the mouth and inner cheeks.
The white spots on gums around teeth can even form on the tongue. The sad part is they can neither be rubbed nor scraped off the surface on which they have formed.
6. Oral cancer:
Sometimes white gums can be the first signs of oral cancer (also known as oral cavity cancer). This cancer can quickly spread and affect your gums, roof of the mouth and tongue. Thin white or red bumps can develop around these areas in the mouth.
7. Tooth Extraction:
Got a tooth extracted by a dentist? The gums near your tooth might turn white as a result of the trauma of the procedure. After few days, the gums should get back their original color.
8. Teeth Whitening:
After a teeth-whitening procedure, sometimes your gums may turn white. This is a temporary side effect of the chemicals used for this cosmetic procedure.
Tobacco use in any form and chronic alcohol abuse can’t be neglected. They share equal blame for causing painful white gums around teeth. Though most cases of leukoplakia are benign, sometimes it can be an early indication of oral cancer.
How To Treat White Gums?
The causes of white gums around teeth vary. Similarly, the treatment options vary depending on the conditions that led to white spots on gums around teeth.
This section will show you the treatment according to the cause that led to gums turning white around teeth.
1. Treatment For Gingivitis:
Good brushing and flossing habits and seeing your dentist twice a year can help treat gingivitis. In more advanced cases, the dentist might even suggest scaling, root planning to laser cleaning.
2. Treatment For Canker Sores:
Did you know, canker sores are the most manageable causes when it comes to white gums?
If a canker sore is stubborn enough not to vanish off within 14 days, it means that the ulcer is serious and should not be ignored.
If you have multiple canker sores all at the same time, then your dentist might suggest a ‘prescription’ mouth rinse (it is not the same as the conventional mouth rinse you do).
The doctor can also suggest a topical ointment. If all treatment options fail, then oral corticosteroids might be recommended to you.
3. Treatment For Anemia:
This calls for dietary changes so that you get the right dose of iron and vitamin B12 to have a healthy count of the red blood cells in your body. Vitamin C supplement can also be considered as this nutrient helps your body absorb iron more efficiently.
4. Treatment For Oral Candidiasis:
Prescription antifungal medication can help treat oral candidiasis.
5. Treatment For Leukoplakia:
For diagnosis of leukoplakia, a biopsy might be taken from one of the patches on your gums. All in all, lifestyle habits need to be corrected which make the patches happen in the first place.
E.g. – if you smoke, then what is the lifestyle habit you need to correct? Stop smoking, what else?
6. Treatment For Oral Cancer:
Unfortunately, oral cancer is usually detected only after if it has spread entirely in the mouth right down to the lymph nodes. Therefore, its treatment includes chemotherapy and surgical removal of the affected parts of your mouth or lymph nodes.
In short, oral cancer is the most serious cause of white gums around teeth. This means it needs immediate treatment so that the malignant cells do not spread across other parts of your body.