What is that spot on my gums?

You strive to take excellent care of your teeth; they are beautiful, straight, and white. And then one day you notice a dark spot on your gums, which doesn’t look good, and it definitely doesn’t look natural. You are concerned with the aesthetics of this, but even more concerning – is this spot a sign of a serious health problem?

Amalgam tattoos

The good news is that, most likely, this spot is nothing to be concerned about. The odds are good that this is just something known as an “amalgam tattoo,” the result of an amalgam filling that you probably got a long time ago.

Nowadays, cavities are filled with a composite/ceramic material that is the color of your teeth, but if you are over a certain age, you may still have some amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings are made of a combination of materials such as mercury, tin, copper, and silver. These fillings can sink down into the gums (and can even end up in the lips, tongue, or cheeks) and cause a grayish or black spot. Parts of an amalgam filling can get pushed down into gum tissue if your dentist is removing the filling or drilling out tooth decay.

Although amalgam tattoos are pretty common and nothing to worry about, they do resemble mucosal melanomas, which are something to be concerned about! Mucosal melanomas are a rare but deadly form of cancer that typically affects people who have used tobacco products for many years. Besides an odd-looking spot, another symptom is swelling in the mouth – you might notice that your dentures don’t fit as well as they used to because of this. If you think you might have a mucosal melanoma, you should see your dentist or your doctor right away. They can perform an examination and can x-ray the spot to determine what exactly it is.

Are you concerned that something about your teeth or gums just doesn’t look right? Are you having pain in your teeth – or is it just time for a cleaning? Maybe it is time to make an appointment with Avenue Dental! Call the office in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at (734) 484-4710!

Should you be using charcoal toothpaste?

Some people are convinced that “all-natural” products are the way to go – and this includes toothpaste made from natural ingredients. Charcoal toothpaste has become more popular in the past few years as a natural solution and a product that whitens teeth, but is it something you should be using?

Why do people use charcoal toothpaste?

First of all, you should know this isn’t the same kind of charcoal that you use to light your barbecue. It is made from natural materials, such as wood and coconut shells, that are ground into a fine powder. It is a big trend now to use charcoal in beauty and health products, such as face scrubs, face masks, and, of course, toothpaste.

Besides wanting a natural product, people may use charcoal toothpaste because they don’t like the mint or cinnamon flavor that other toothpastes have. Other people swear that their charcoal toothpaste helps to keep their teeth white, removes stains, and even prevents bad breath.

However, there is no real, scientific proof that charcoal toothpaste really does these things. It can actually end up making teeth look less white and more dingy – charcoal is abrasive and can wear down tooth enamel. This not only makes teeth more sensitive, but this exposes the dentin underneath, which is yellow.

Most brands of charcoal toothpaste also don’t have fluoride in them, which is an important ingredient for keeping teeth healthy. And, yet another reason why you might not want to use charcoal toothpaste is that no one is really sure what the long-term effects of using charcoal toothpaste might be, and it is also unclear how it might affect veneers, bridges, and other restorations.

Deciding on a toothpaste may seem like it should be an easy decision, but for some people it’s not! Maybe you want a natural toothpaste, or maybe you are looking for something besides those “minty” toothpastes that irritate your mouth. If you need help finding the right toothpaste for you or with keeping your oral health the best it can be, the staff at Avenue Dental can help. Call the office in Ypsilanti, Michigan, for an appointment, at (734) 484-4710 today!