|What are Amalgam Tattoos?
An Amalgam Tattoo (also called a focal argyrosis) is the
most common pigmentation of the oral cavity. It is an area
of permanent bluish-gray pigmentation resulting from
amalgam (silver) filling particles falling into small, open
wounds created during dental treatment or by trauma
shortly after a dental treatment, when small, fresh amalgam
particles still cling to the mucosa.
|Photos of Amalgam Tattoos
|What are the Signs & Symptoms of an Amalgam Tattoo?
The amalgam tattoo presents as a soft, painless, non-
ulcerated, blue / gray / black macule (a small, flat,
distinct, coloured area of skin that is ≤ 10 mm in diameter
and does not include a change in skin texture or
thickness) with no surrounding reddening.
They are more common in the lower jaw than the upper,
typically in the bicuspid-molar region. The tattoo is found
more frequently in women than in men, perhaps because
women more frequently seek dental care. It is also seen
more frequently with advancing patient age, presumably
because of increased exposure to dental procedures over
There are no symptoms of an amalgam tattoo. In most
cases, you won't even know you have one.
How are they treated?
Reassurance. No treatment is necessary but a biopsy
can be performed to rule out melanoma or another
Tattoos visible on the X-ray are usually not biopsied and
those occurring on the visible part of the lips can be
removed for cosmetic reasons.
There is no malignant potential for this lesion.
Do they come back?
An amalgam tattoo is permanent unless it is removed
surgically. As amalgam tattoos do not cause harm, the
prognosis is excellent.
University of Arkansas, College of Health Sciences
Bond's Book of Oral Diseases (4th Edition) / The
Maxillofacial Center for Diagnostics & Research
|Last Updated 18th August 2010