If you notice an area of discolouration on your gums, then you may think it could be an amalgam tattoo. These marks sometimes appear on soft tissues in the mouth. They are related to the silver-coloured amalgam used in some fillings. Its dust sometimes embeds in places outside the tooth.
How can you identify amalgam tattoos, and what should you do about them?
What Is the Mark Like?
Amalgam tattoos are usually a dark grey or bluish colour. They look like a metal-coloured stain in the mouth. Some marks have even edges while others have irregular ones.
These marks don't have a typical size. Sometimes, they are scattered spots but they can be a larger filled shape. While these tattoos can grow initially, they don't tend to keep growing or to change colour.
An amalgam tattoo doesn't hurt. It also shouldn't bleed.
Have You Had Recent Dental Work?
Typically, amalgam tattoos appear soon after you have had work done on a tooth. They may appear on the gum near the tooth itself, on a cheek or under the tongue. These marks can develop after the following treatments:
- You've recently had a silver filling or a root canal that used amalgam to fill the tooth.
- You've had an old silver filling taken out and replaced with a different material.
- You've had your teeth cleaned and polished recently, and you have one or more existing amalgam fillings.
- You've had a tooth out that contained an amalgam filling.
Introducing amalgam into the mouth, either with a new filling or other treatment, can make dust settle on soft tissues where it can eventually stain and create a mark that looks like a tattoo.
Do You Need Treatment?
Any change in your mouth needs investigation. Even if you think you have an amalgam tattoo, you should have your dentist check it out. Rarely, these marks are mixed up with melanomas that are cancerous, so it's best to be on the safe side.
Your dentist may be able to tell that you have an amalgam tattoo from a visual check. In some cases, they may use an X-ray or a biopsy if they aren't sure.
If you do have this kind of tattoo, then you won't need any treatment. It isn't harmful. However, if it is in an obvious spot and you would like it removed, talk to your dentist. They can talk to you about laser removal and surgical options.