There are a number of potential explanations for white spots on gums, and usually, evaluation by an oral health professional is needed to determine if spots are a cause for concern. Causes can range from oral cancers to allergic reactions. If a dentist believes that white spots on gums are potentially malignant, a biopsy may be recommended to learn more about them. Patients should advised that a biopsy request doesn't necessarily mean the spots are dangerous, it's merely a precautionary step to rule out malignant causes.
Often, white spots on gums take the form of leukoplakia, the development of white patches on the mucus membranes. This is often linked with tobacco use. It can also be a sign of infection with Candida yeast, an allergic reaction, or a reaction to bleaching chemicals used to whiten the teeth. A dentist can evaluate the spots to determine likely causes. Medications can be used to treat yeast infections, and if the cause appears to be allergies, adjusting the diet, changing oral health products, or stopping a tooth whitening program may resolve the white spots.
Salivary gland inflammation can sometimes cause white spots on gums. The gums may also appear reddish and inflamed. Another cause is the development of bony growths in the jaw. The gums are not actually white, but they appear to be because of the protrusion of bone. Fordyce granules, small whitish spots known to appear on mucus membranes in some people, can also be an issue.
White spots on gums may be a cyst, a small pocket filled with fluid, and sometimes they are canker sores. In both cases, eating soft, mild food for a few days to give the mouth a chance to heal should resolve the problem. If the spots are tender and sore or appear to grow over time, a dentist can be consulted to get more information about treatment options. Topical medications can often reduce pain and swelling while the issue resolves.
Patients who notice white spots on gums accompanied with extreme tenderness, bleeding, or puffiness may want to consult a dentist. Health care professionals prefer to look at benign conditions and inform their patients that no treatment is needed, as opposed to seeing advanced malignancies after the treatment options have narrowed considerably. Tissue changes in the mouth can be a sign of precancerous or cancerous lesions, and catching them early will allow patients to receive rapid and appropriate treatment.