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What is the cause of gray gums?

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Quick Answer

There are two main causes for gums to turn gray, including trench mouth and leukoplakia. When people have trench mouth, they develop a gray film on their gums and may experience a bad taste in their mouths. Leukoplakia is a condition that causes white or gray patches on the gums, tongue and inner cheek area, according to WebMD.

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The only way to know the cause of a patient's gums turning gray is to conduct a proper dental exam. Specific testing that may be performed include dental x-rays, facial x-rays, a throat swab culture and an oral examination.

Symptoms of trench mouth often come on suddenly and include ulcers between the teeth, excessive gum bleeding when irritation occurs, painful gums, bad breath and swollen gums. Trench mouth is a painful infection caused by an excessive amount of normal bacteria in the mouth. It can be treated with antibiotics, salt water rinses and practicing good oral hygiene, according to MedlinePlus.

Leukoplakia is a condition caused by an irritation of the mucous membranes. The main symptom of this condition is raised and hardened gray or white patches in the mouth. The patches are usually painless but can become irritated when spicy or hot foods are consumed. Doctors diagnose leukoplakia by performing a biopsy.

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