What Is an Amalgam Tattoo?

Categories: dental emergency

You take good care of your teeth and gums, and it is surprising one day when you look at your gums and notice an ugly black spot. It can be a shock, and a bit worrying – so what is that spot on your gums, should you be worried about it, and does it call for an emergency trip to the dentist?

Amalgam tattoos

The odds are that this spot on your gums is nothing more than a harmless “tattoo,” leftover from a metal amalgam filling. Before composite and ceramic became the materials of choice for tooth fillings, they used to be made up of materials such as mercury, tin, copper, and silver.

Over time, an amalgam filling may sink down into the gums, or even make its way into the lips, cheeks, or tongue. Parts of the filling may also get pushed into other tissues when your dentist is drilling out tooth decay or when he or she is removing an amalgam filling.

Are amalgam tattoos dangerous?

Most of the time, amalgam tattoos are absolutely nothing to worry about. However, you should be aware that amalgam tattoos can look very similar to mucosal melanomas – a sign of a rare but deadly form of cancer.

Mucosal melanomas typically occur in people who have used tobacco for a long time. They usually appear on the palate or in the inner part of the sinus cavity. If you have a mucosal melanoma you may notice pain and swelling in the mouth, and if you wear dentures you may notice that they don’t fit as well as they used to. If you are concerned that your spot may actually be a mucosal melanoma, especially if you use tobacco, you should see your dentist right away. An examination and an x-ray will be able to determine what the spot is.

If you have a black, grey, or bluish spot on your gums, it is most likely nothing to worry about. However, if you have any questions about this or other tooth or gum issues, you can always call  Pacific Northwest Smiles. Call 425-357-6400 for an appointment today!