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!

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