White Gums

Table of Contents
Overview
What are the causes of white gums?
Common symptoms of white gums
How to prevent and treat white gums?
Related articles

By John Baker

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Overview

There are a number of things that can result in white gums, but no matter what the causes are, white gums can be a sign of a serious illness in your teeth or even your whole body.  Our gums should normally be a pinkish-red color; many refer to as a coral pink.

White gums are most commonly caused by gum disease from improper oral hygiene, a yeast infection, or tobacco usage. Lesions in the mouth are frequently a result of tobacco consumption, and generally appear white. This deviation in gum color is also often seen in people with compromised immune systems. Usually in cases of gums that appear white they are associated with white patches on the inner cheek, tongue, and gums of the affected person.

One of the major contributors to white gums is a yeast infection. Candida Albicans, a form of yeast which lives in the mouth and normally does not have a harmful effect. If the yeast begins to multiply more than the standard amount, it can result in white lesions on the inner cheeks and tongue. These lesions can also appear on the gums and the back of the throat, though these occurrences are far less common. The infection can eventually migrate to other parts of the body and even result in death if not treated. Candidiasis is an extremely common infection and doctors can usually prescribe antibiotics to cure it before it amplifies.

The term leukoplakia generally describes white patches in parts of the tongue or gums. Many doctors believe these spots can become potentially cancerous. Once the spots are recognized your doctor will recommend avoiding the use of tobacco and other substances which tend to irritate the gums.

It is imperative that if you see white spots on your gums you consult your dentist as soon as you can. White gums are most often treated with proper dental hygiene. In some cases, you will need antibiotics prescribed by your Doctor to competently remove the infection.

What are the causes of white gums?

  • Gingivitis (early gum disease)
  • Gum or periodontal disease
  • Certain yeast infections
  • Frequent tobacco use 
  • A compromised or weakened immune system
  • Lesions in the mouth
  • Leukoplakia
  • Early symptoms of oral cancer

Why Do We Get White Gums?

Gingivitis

 Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease and is one of the primary reasons people can develop white gums. While the color of the gums is important, the uniformity of that color over the surfaces of the gums is just as important. Alterations in color are usually your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong.

Sometimes, a whitening of the gums only develops in the select spots where they come into direct contact with the teeth. This is a symptom that the teeth are not being cleaned as well as they should be, and a better job needs to be done while brushing and flossing. Improper oral hygiene is another common reason white spots can appear on gums. White color which has developed along the gum surface near the teeth indicate food particles have collected, and plaque has begun developing. Left unattended, the bacteria resulting from the plaque will become a cavity, a case of gum disease, or both.

Thrush Infections

As mentioned above thrush is a common reason people develop white splotches along their gums. Thrush is a fungal infection normally found in the mouth and in various places throughout the body. Similar to the earliest stages of gum disease, the beginning of thrush is not that serious and can be treated.

If the white gums are because of this infection there are normally symptoms elsewhere as well. It is normal to see  white spots on the roof of the mouth or tongue. If continued to go untreated thrush can spread to other parts of the body and become very dangerous.

Medical Conditions

Oral health can be a valuable indicator of a person’s overall well-being. While in many cases white gums are caused by oral conditions, this is not always true. The body’s issues can manifest themselves in the mouth, as well. For instance, if a patient has a weakened immune system because of illness or stress, it is quite possible that those immunity issues can present themselves in the patient's gums.

In addition, patients with anemia, which is a low iron count in the blood can also have problems with gum discoloration. While the gums might not actually appear white, very pale gums can be a symptom of anemia.

Common symptoms of white gums

In many cases where the gums appear pale or white in color, they will be accompanied by other symptoms as well. For example: the white patches might not be isolated to your gums but can be visible on your tongue or inside of your cheek. You also may notice that your tongue has a strange white texture that bleeds easily if scraped. Any of these afflictions can be quite serious and should be treated by your dentist.

While white gums might not be a serious issue, there are several serious illnesses that can be diagnosed through the appearance of these symptoms. For instance: there is a strong relation between white gums and the development of oral cancer. In fact, many patients with undiagnosed patches of white tissue on their gums, tongue, cheek, and throat will usually be told by a dentist that such patches will need to be removed due to the inherent risk of oral cancer.

White patches on your gums can be your body’s way of letting you know that something might be seriously wrong and it needs to be fixed. One common reason for white gums can be gum disease or gingivitis, ( the earliest stage of gum disease). Commonly caused by the development of bacteria and can be prevented through brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist. Once gum disease has developed, a dental care professional may treat it through intensive cleanings to remove traces of the built up plaque.

Early forms of gum disease can be prevented through a routine of good oral hygiene. However, if gingivitis is left untreated it can escalate into a more serious form of gum disease.

When treatment is neglected during the gingivitis stage, gum disease can advance to something called periodontitis. Periodontitis disease is most noted to be associated with bleeding gums, pockets between the gums and teeth, halitosis and loosened teeth. Often, this condition causes the gums to develop a purple or bright-red coloring, but white spots have been known to appear as well. Treatment for periodontitis includes dental cleanings, smoothing of tooth root surfaces, and medications to fight infection. In severe cases, surgery is used to better access the roots of the tooth, replace damaged gum or bone tissue, or encourage bone or tissue growth.

The white areas on the gums can be a result of frequent use of tooth whiteners. Products used to whiten the teeth at home have been associated with white and irritated gums.

White areas sometime develop on gum tissue because of overabundant cell growth. This growth is usually referred to as leukoplakia, which can also affect the cheeks and tongue. Chewing or smoking tobacco and dentures that do not fit well can also develop into leukoplakia.

The treatment for white gums varies depending on the cause and severity of the situation. When the issue is a result of gum disease or gingivitis dental treatment is absolutely necessary. You should consult your dentist or doctor in either of these situations.

Thrush is a type of yeast infection, which causes white patches to develop on the gums, inner cheeks and tongue. To treat this infection, you will have to visit your doctor for an oral antifungal medication. Your doctor will recommend a medication to be applied directly to the white patches, or through a pill that contains an antifungal like fluconazole. A doctor may also evaluate and treat any underlying causes of thrush, such as diabetes or immune system issues.

How to prevent and treat white gums?

Healthy lifestyle choices and good oral hygiene practices are the best ways to maintain healthy pink gums. Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco as well, because they can be very harmful to your gums and mouth.

Treatments for White Gums

The first step for treating white gums is identifying the cause. Gums with splotchy white areas with no elevated areas or sores, often infer that there is an infection somewhere within your body. The white gums are caused by the white blood cell’s effort to eliminate the infection. 

When your gums regularly bleed, your problem is often related to gingivitis. We all need to pay attention to our daily oral hygiene routine in order to achieve healthy gums. This means brushing and flossing twice a day and rinsing with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal mouthwash is essential to oral well-being. While we can’t prevent the buildup of the bacteria, we can help remove it through good dentalcare.

Best Ways to Treat White Gums

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Symptoms of Gum Disease

  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teethe
  • Loosened teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores throughout your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath or halitosis

 

Additional information