So, you get up in the morning and go to brush your teeth, attentive as always, and what do you see? Your gums are looking rather pale. Why is this? 'Are you turning into a vampire? Before you get worried and start frantically closing the drapes to avoid immolation let's calm you a bit and give you a dose of the facts. White gums happen. You will be fine, there are just a few things that you need to know.
Do I need to worry about why my gums are white?
White gums can indeed be a something to worry about. There are a number of things that can be amiss. White gums around your teeth indicate potential health problems and may or may not require the attention of your Dentist. We've compiled a list of the causes of white gums in order to help you to understand what may be going on and so that you can take action if required. As we've mentioned before, just don't panic. All you need is a little knowledge and lucky for you, you are in exactly the right place.
Potential causes for white gums around your teeth
So, what are those potential causes we're talking about? What does having white gums mean? Here are a list of potentials reasons why your gums are turning white:
- Canker sores - Canker sores are tiny, painful ulcers in your mouth. That said, they will only turn your gums white in small sections and only if they have developed on the lower portion of your gums. If only small sections are present then canker sores are the likely culprit. i
- Candidiasis - also known as oral thrush, this condition is simply a yeast infection of the mouth(and no, you can't gargle hops and make mouth-beer. Sheesh.). Oral thrush manifests as raised, white sores that populate the tongue, the inside of the cheeks, and yes, they can show up on your gums. Might be time to see the Dentist for some antibiotics if you are seeing these symtoms.
- Extraction duress - If you have white gums after a tooth extraction there is little cause for alarm. The stress on your gums from a tooth extraction can cause a temporary whitening of the gums. Don't worry, it should clear up on its own in a few days.
- Tooth whitening - Those treatments that make your teeth more movie and game-show ready can also whiten your gums, but don't worry, movie star, this should only last for a few hours at the most.
- Gingivitis - It's quite possible that gingivitis is the source of your white-gum woes, as it affects approximately half of the United States population. The causes? Generally poor oral hygiene, but not always. Typically gingivitis starts out as red, swollen gums that eventually turn white and start receding, leading to cavities in alarmingly low places on the tooth and sometimes even loose teeth.
- Leukoplakia - This condition occurs most often with smokers and heavy drinkers, oral leukophakia shows up as patches of white on the gums in between healthy gum tissue. Sometimes these patches host white bumps with dashes of red color in them. While generally harmless, in some cases these can be precursors to oral cancer, so this is something to get checked out.
- Menopause - You might not have known it, but menopause can decrease the blood flow in your gums, leading to whitening of them. If they are bleeding as well, it could be menopausal gingivostomatitis, which can require antifungal medication in some cases. Alternately, if the infection is not fungal, hormonal treatments may be employed to counter the blood-flow issues.
- Anemia - Not getting enough iron or vitamin b12? Do you have celiac disease or Crohn's disease? Symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness to go with your newly white gums can be signs that you are not getting enough vitamins at the very least. Beef up on your vitamins and if your gums are still in the pale zone then you might want to consider consulting your dentist.
"Whatever the case, white gums are nothing to ignore."
- Oral lichen planus - An autoimmune condition, this can be accompanied by bleeding of the gums, pain, inflammation, and patches of white on the tongue, the inside of the cheek, and/or on your gums. While there is no cure for oral lichen planus, it is quite manageable should this prove to be the reason for your white gums.
- Oral Cancer -This one is the boss-villain of the list. Oral cancer can spread quickly, so there are some things that you will want to look out for. Thickening of skin in the mouth, bleeding, bumps in the mouth, jaw pain, difficulty swallowing or chewing. It can also cause loose teeth as well. If you are experiencing a number of these symptoms we recommend that you consult your dentist at your soonest convenience. You don't want to play around with this one.
Your dentist will know why your gums are turning white.
Now that we have listed a number of the causes of white gums, you still might consider visiting the dentist and simply asking, 'I have white gums. Why?'. Once you calm from your initial panic that has caused you to say something rather like 'I-have-why-gah-why?!', simply take a deep breath and ask the dentist 'why are my gums white?' and they can take a peek. Likely there will be some questions about your oral hygiene(unless you are tooth-conscious and a frequent visitor to ur dental angels). If it is something from the more serious portions of this list, then a sample of tissue might be taken for a biopsy. Whatever the case, white gums are nothing to ignore. If you are certain on your hygiene and your vitamin intake then take the time to schedule an appointment with your dentist and to discuss your options. After all, your smile brightens the world for all of those who look upon it(unless you are a Mortician or the Tax guy), why not take care of it?