You or your dentist may notice a gray, blue or black spot in your mouth that looks like a tattoo. Dentists call these spots amalgam tattoos. They can appear in the mouth of someone with amalgam fillings or metal false teeth. They can appear on your gums, cheek, lips, tongue or the roof of the mouth (palate).
The tattoos are flat and usually quite small — only a few millimeters. But they’re relatively easy to see.
A tattoo can be created while your dentist is placing or removing fillings or crowns that contain metal. It can also occur during many other dental procedures, such as tooth extractions or root canal treatment. A tattoo also can appear over time.
For example, a filling on the outer side of a tooth may touch your inner cheek. Particles from the filling may rub off over time.
Amalgam tattoos are quite common, although many people don’t even know they have them.
Amalgam tattoos have no symptoms. In most cases, you won’t even know you have one. They usually are found during a dental cleaning or a routine test for oral cancer.
An amalgam tattoo is permanent unless it is surgically removed.
Your dentist can reduce the chances that an amalgam tattoo will form. The usual way to do this is to use a rubber dam in your mouth during dental procedures. A dam is a flat piece of latex that isolates specific teeth from the rest of your mouth. Using a rubber dam, however, does not guarantee that an amalgam tattoo will not occur.
If the area turns out to be an amalgam tattoo, further treatment is not necessary. However, you may want to have it removed if it is on the edge of your lip or somewhere else that makes you feel self-conscious.