Apparently if you've had silver fillings (even if they've re-done them as composites or those teeth were pulled or what-have-you), some of the material can get into your gum tissue and eventually leak, staining the gum. Also, if you happen to be missing a tooth in the middle of your left jaw, you can hurt the gum a bit while eating, resulting in some tenderness for a few days. I did that, and had a sore gum, and when I looked in the mirror on Thursday night to see if it was inflamed, lo and behold: It was gray.
In case you're not aware, gray is not a normal color for your gums to be. And the gray wasn't just localized where the gums were sore, oh no. No, it was also spread in front of a couple of neighboring teeth, which were also feeling a bit tender.
Naturally, I immediately looked up my dentist information to see how to go about making an appointment. It was night time, so I'd have to wait until the next day to call, but given that my face might be rotting off, I was pretty sure they'd fit me in quickly.
Feeling daring, I did a quick google search to see what I could find out about gray gums. There's trench mouth, which was clearly not what I had, and a couple other things that I thought I *could* have, and that were either not a big deal or easy to treat. Then I found a page with disaster information all over it, so I got off the internet - you can't base your self-diagnosis on what you read online anyway, so why get worried about a doom and gloom site that's probably completely wrong, anyway?
Yesterday morning I called the dentist and got an appointment for that afternoon. When the dentists looked at the affected area and poked at it with one of those fierce metal dental tools, and then got a complete set of x-rays to examine, the verdict was delivered: The discoloration is an amalgam tattoo (silver filling leakage), and is totally unrelated to the tenderness, which was probably solely from eating whatever it was that hurt the gum. Completely harmless.
So, I'm pretty happy about that. Of course, my entire mouth was sore for the rest of the day from all the brushing and flossing I had been doing, and from the dentist poking around for my complete check-up (I was past due anyway), and from the stupid unwieldy and slightly painful mouth x-ray apparatus. But hey, I'm just glad it wasn't something that had to be fixed. As it was, I had no cavities and all my gum tissue numbers were good.
A day without the need of a dental or orthodontic procedure is a good day.