Affiliated Dentists Logo
Close this search box.

Why Do Kids Get Black Gums?

Why do kids get black gums?

  • Eruption Hematoma
  • Teething Solutions
  • Black Gum Disease
  • When to See the Dentist

The color of your child’s gums will complement the color of his or her sweet face, ranging anywhere from light pink to dark brown. Sometimes, however, darker than usual spots appear on children’s gums that can make parents scratch their heads. If you’re not sure why your child’s gums look different, read on for the most common reason for the color change, what isn’t a big deal, and what would require a trip to the dentist.

Teething Troubles: Eruption Hematoma

The most common cause of black gums in infants and young children is something called eruption hematoma. Normally when children teeth, the tooth descends through the gums fairly easily. Your child may be a little fussy and drool more than usual. The gums, however, should look fairly normal, perhaps with a little swelling or tenderness.

Sometimes when the tooth is descending in the gums, a fluid-filled sac called a cyst forms. This can create a lump in the gums. If blood enters the cyst, it will turn a dark purple or black color. This is called an eruption hematoma. It can occur if the eruption cyst was hurt through a fall or bumped.

Usually the eruption hematoma will resolve after the tooth comes in. Occasionally, the tooth will not erupt due to the cyst. When this happens, the dentist may need to incise the cyst to allow the tooth to come through.

For further reading: How Can I Comfort My Teething Baby?

Keeping Teething Gums Comfortable

If your child is especially bothered by teething, cold is your friend! Cold items applied to the gums will help decrease any swelling and numb pain. Try offering him or her a cold bottle of chilled water, a popsicle, or a cold teething ring. Keep a stash of pacifiers in the freezer for quick relief for when your child awakes at night. Chilled foods like cold applesauce, yogurt, and purees can also provide comfort during meal times.

Rare, but Dangerous: Black Gum Disease

A far less likely reason that your child has black gums is acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, also known as trench mouth. This advanced gum disease results in the death of gum tissue, which causes it to turn dark. Other symptoms of trench mouth include painful, bleeding gums, a persistent bad taste in the mouth, fever, and neck and shoulder pain.

When to See the Dentist

Gum disease of this extent is usually only found in older teens and adults. However, if your child has a badly decayed tooth and the surrounding gum tissue is dark, it’s possible that this tissue is also deteriorating. This serious situation would necessitate a trip to your dentist, who can treat your child to prevent further decay and disease.

If your child is teething and only experiencing eruption hematoma, there’s no need to come in for an appointment. It should go away after the tooth has come in. If it’s been a while, however, and the tooth has not come through, bringing your child in for an exam would be a good idea. Your dentist will check to see if the cyst needs to be surgically opened to allow the new tooth to come through.

Pediatric Dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin

If you have questions about the health of your child’s gums or need to schedule a regular check-up, please contact our office today. Affiliated Dentists offers pediatric dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin.

Why Do Kids Get Black Gums? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson

Related Articles

Meet Laura at AD

Laura M is an office coordinator at AD. What is your education background?  I graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a degree in Liberal Studies.

Read More »