The treatment for white gums depends on its cause. Sometimes an infection is the culprit, and getting rid of it takes care of the white coloring. Dental treatment is necessary when gum disease is the problem, but in other cases, discontinuing use of a particular product or substance works. For persistent, severe, or unexplained cases, evaluation by a doctor or dentist is usually warranted.
Sometimes a fungal infection of the mouth is responsible for white gums. Thrush, a type of yeast infection caused by Candida fungi, can cause white patches to develop on the gums as well as on the inner cheeks and tongue. To treat this, you will typically have to visit a doctor for an oral antifungal medication. Your doctor may prescribe a medication you can apply to the white patches, such as nystatin®, or a pill that contains an antifungal like fluconazole. A doctor may also evaluate and treat any underlying causes of thrush, such as diabetes or immune system dysfunction.
Other types of conditions can also cause whiteness of the gum tissue. For example, if you have patches of white on your gums but do not have thrush, you might have gingivitis, which is the early stage of gum disease. It is caused by bacteria and can be prevented via brushing, flossing, and regular visits to a dentist. Once you have it, a dental care professional may treat it with intensive cleanings to get rid of plaque, which is a sticky coating made up of bacteria, and tartar, which is hardened plaque. Sometimes using an antiseptic mouthwash helps as well.
When not stopped in the gingivitis stage, gum disease can advanced to become periodontitis, which is marked by sore, bleeding gums; pockets between the gums and the teeth; bad breath; soreness; and loose teeth. Often, this condition causes the gums to take on a purple or bright-red coloring, but splotches of white might appear as well. Treatment for periodontitis usually includes thorough dental cleanings, smoothing of tooth-root surfaces, and drugs to fight infection. In severe cases, surgery may be used to better access the tooth roots, replace damaged gum or bone tissue, or stimulate the growth of new bone and gum tissue.
You might also notice white areas on your gums in relation to your use of tooth whiteners. Sometimes products used to whiten the teeth at home cause the gums to appear white and also lead to irritation. The treatment, in such a case, usually involves stopping the use of whiteners. If you still want to whiten your teeth, however, you may visit a dentist for help. In-office treatment is less likely to result in white gums.
White areas sometimes form on gum tissue because of overabundant cell growth. This growth is usually referred to as leukoplakia, which can also affect the cheeks and tongue. You may be more likely to develop white gums for this reason if you chew or smoke tobacco, but dentures that do not fit well can cause this problem as well. No treatment is required for leukoplakia that is related to smoking or dentures, though cutting back on tobacco and having dentures refitted may help.
Sometimes leukoplakia is a sign of oral cancer, so you may do well to have white patches evaluated by a doctor. Your dentist or doctor may scrape the patches off or use a laser to destroy the excess cells. If you do have oral cancer, surgery, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy are among the possible treatments.