With the exception of bruising, most causes for black gums after a tooth extraction are not considered complications. More diligent tooth removal aftercare will expedite its recovery. We will explain what all of the causes are and also what you can do about it. It's really not as bad as you think it is!
Table of contents:
A couple of potential causes for black gums after tooth removal may be due to bruising, dried blood, or even black colored food.
Bruising after a tooth extraction is a potential complication which may cause your gums to turn black. It is a result of excess bleeding where blood pools under the skin. Once the heme breaks down, it transforms into a black, blue, or purplish color.
Signs & symptoms:
Black, blue, or purple color near injection site.
Area may have swelled up.
Can be painful.
The bleeding can either have been due to the injection or from the extraction. For the former, the anesthetic needle can sometimes nick the adjacent blood vessel and cause it to bleed. The latter is well, it is a surgical procedure so there will be blood...
The good news is that the bruise should go away by itself on its own. The bad news is that sometimes it can take a long time for it to fully resolve, it could be a few weeks at worse case scenario.
Fresh blood has a bright red color but as it oxidizes when it becomes exposed to the air, it will change into a darker color. Blood that has fully dried after an extraction may look like a dark burgundy red or even black in color.
Signs & symptoms:
Small splotches or patches of black on the gums.
It can rub off or peel off.
It may come off while you're rinsing or brushing.
Located near the extraction site.
If you haven't been keeping your mouth clean enough by rinsing with salt water after every meal, you may have residual dried blood on your gums. This can potentially cause the gingiva to look black.
Black colored food
Often overlooked but if you have been eating black food, it could just be your leftover lunch. This is the most likely cause if you also see black stuff coming out of the tooth socket.
Black colored foods:
Squid ink pasta
This condition is not a complication by any means since food is harmless. The only adverse effect is if you don't get the stuck food out, it can begin to ferment and cause bad breath (halitosis). That may not be very pleasant so you should try your best to keep the surgical site as clean as possible.
Depending on the cause of your black gums after having your tooth pulled, the treatment or management will differ. It is best to speak with your doctor about what you should do.
Cold compress. If there is any swelling associated with your condition, the standard of care is to use a cold compress. The cold will numb the area and help reduce swelling.
Pain medication. Bruising around the injection site can be painful so taking painkillers can help alleviate the discomfort. However, you may want to avoid medications that can cause bleeding because that may make the bruising worse.
Salt water rinsing. Rinsing with saline is the standard of care for keeping the tooth socket clean and free of debris. This will rid your gums of of dried blood and stuck food.
As you can see, these are all fairly simple treatments which can be done at home. The reason is because most of the causes for black gum after taking out your tooth are not harmful.
What it is not
Patients are often concerned when they see something out of the ordinary. They immediately think it is a post-surgical complication such as a dry socket or an infection. However, they should rest assured because gum blacks are NOT indicative of either of those.
Conditions it is not:
Dry socket. A dry socket is unrelated to the gums because it affects the jaw bone of the tooth socket and not the gums. The condition is characterized by a lack of a blood clot within the socket so it actually looks yellow or white in color.
Infection. A tell-tale sign of an infection would be swelling accompanied by purulence, which is a white fluid that oozes out of the surgical site. The color black is the opposite of a white fluid so it is not an infection.
To reiterate, the most likely cause of your black gingiva after an extraction would be either dried blood or a bruise from the injection.
Gum color after an extraction
The normal color for healthy gums in the mouth is a light pink color but its color can change after an extraction.
Gum color progression after tooth removal:
Immediately after the procedure, the gums are a bright red color since it's bleeding.
After a couple of hours, it can change to a darker red or black color as the blood dries.
Typically, the gingiva should revert back to a healthy light pink color once it has healed.
Therefore don't expect the gums to stay the same color during the whole healing process. It will move through various color changes as it heals.
The only potential complication for the gums to turn black after an extraction would be if you had bruising. Luckily for you, the condition is self resolving so it will go away on its own without you needing to do anything.
The other two causes, dried blood and black colored food can be simply solved just by maintaining better oral hygiene. Keep your mouth extra clean with salt water rinsing and it should all go away. However, when you're in doubt you should always contact your dentist and let them know of your condition.