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What's Causing Your Gums to Look White?

Everyone loves a bright white smile, but what does it mean when your gums are white? While you typically visit the dentist for your teeth, the health of your gums is just as important for good oral hygiene. If your gums are white or puffy, it often means something is amiss with your oral health and it's essential to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

What causes white gums?

Healthy gums are pink in color. From simple canker sores to anemia and serious inflammatory illnesses, there are several conditions that can cause your gums to turn white.


white gums

Smoking, chewing tobacco, drinking, and basically anything that could cause irritating friction in your mouth, such as rough teeth, dentures, or uneven fillings and crowns, can lead to what is known as leukoplakia.

What is leukoplakia?

If you've ever seen white patches that appear on your gums, tongue, base of your mouth, and/or inside your cheeks, the medical term for those spots is leukoplakia. You cannot remove them with your toothbrush and though they are not usually painful, they may be sensitive to the touch or to certain foods, especially those that are hot or spicy. Leukoplakia on the gums tend to be thicker than the gum tissue around them. They can also harden over time.

A tooth extraction or teeth whitening process can also cause your gums to appear white. Other conditions that can cause white gums include:

  • Anemia is usually caused by vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies. It can also be a sign of celiac or Crohn's disease. A change in diet and vitamin supplements are typically used to manage these conditions.
  • Canker sores are painful lesions that develop on your gums or inside your mouth. Common treatment includes saltwater rinses, oral ointments, or steroids.  
  • Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can cause irritated and swollen gums as well as recession. Regular dental hygiene care is the best way to deal with periodontal issues.
  • Oral thrush typically affects babies, older adults, and diabetics. As it is caused by a yeast infection, an antifungal medication may be prescribed for treatment.

The most serious cause of white gums is oral cancer, which can quickly spread. The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that nearly 60,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease in 2019. Your dentist can check for growths, sore lumps or thickening of the skin inside the mouth. If you have a long-term sore throat or notice mouth sores that are slow to heal, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist ASAP.

Keep Your Gums Pink

If lifestyle changes do not eliminate white patches on your gums, report the problem to your dentist. While white gums are rarely a life threatening condition, it's always better to be safe than sorry!

There are many things you can do to prevent your gums from developing white patches. The simplest one of all is brushing 2 to 3 times per day regardless of oral health concerns. Nothing does more to prevent oral health problems then brushing your teeth on a regular basis.

Caven Dental can help discover what is causing your white gums. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn how to keep your gums pink and healthy.

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