After Your Dental Implant Surgery: What's That Grey Patch on Your Gums?

A healthy smile should have two distinctive colours—the white (or slightly off-white) shade of your teeth, which meets the pinkness of your gums. Some patients who receive dental implants may face an unexpected change in the colour of their gums. Sure, the gums are still mostly pink, but what's that grey shadow directly beneath your implant's prosthetic tooth?

A Prominent Grey Patch

A darkening of any part of your body can be extremely concerning. Soft tissues that have darkened suggest bruising, or even a serious infection. In fact, some bruising (often including the gums) is quite common after dental implant surgery. But mere bruising will heal, and your gum tissues should return to their previous shade of pink without much delay. However, if a prominent grey patch remains visible on your gums, you might be seeing the implant itself.  

Your Gingival Tissues

The thickness of your gingival tissues is an important consideration for the aesthetics of your dental implant (as in, how natural the prosthetic tooth will look once it has been attached to the implant). Part of the preparation work for a dental implant involves assessing the thickness of your gingival tissues. 

Assessing Thickness

This measuring may be done manually, involving a visual inspection and periodontal probing. This is generally sufficient for the majority of patients. If the thickness of your gingival tissues is identified as a potential aesthetic issue, this may impact the specifics of your procedure. For example, as opposed to the standard titanium alloy implant, your dentist may recommend using a ceramic (zirconia) implant, which is white and will be effectively concealed by your gingival tissues.

Concealing the Implant

But a zirconia implant is of little use if a titanium alloy implant has already been placed. Should you have your initial implant removed and replaced with a ceramic version? Given the effort involved in placing an implant (after all, it requires a surgical procedure), this will very much be a last resort and generally isn't recommended. Instead, your dentist can manually thicken your gums with a gum graft. This involves a small amount of gingival tissue being harvested from elsewhere in your mouth and grafted over the section of your gums where the implant was placed. It will heal, integrating with the underlying tissues in the process, and once an adequate level of thickness has been achieved, your dental implant will be hidden.

A grey patch on your gums may be concerning, but when a dental implant has been placed, remember that you might actually be seeing the implant. Please remember that this isn't an expected outcome, but your dentist can help you to overcome this unfortunate (though fairly minor) problem. 

For more information about dental implants, contact a local dentist.