Other Causes of Gum Conditions

Aside from plaque, other conditions can trigger red and bleeding gums:

Pregnancy:
Those hormonal changes that can cause strange food cravings and unexplained bouts of tears can also cause gums to bleed. There's even a name for this condition--pregnancy gingivitis. Hormonal changes cause an increased sensitivity to plaque, causing increased inflammation. The good news is that the inflammation can be monitored closely by your dental team pros, along with, of course, meticulous home care.

A challenged immune system:
Your gums might bleed more when your immune system is burdened, such as when you have a cold. That's because the mouth picks up viruses more easily when the immune system is down, causing gums to be more swollen and sensitive.

Stress:
While our bodies are used to the usual expected levels of stress, excessive amounts of it can be too much, and the body?s stress can overload the mouth. Finding alternative ways to alleviate stress should return the gums to normal.

Heredity:
A study in the Journal of Medical Genetics indicated that gum disease could be a genetic predisposition. Researchers discovered that changes in a gene for the enzyme cathepsin-C are responsible for a condition known as Papillon-Lefevre syndrome. Along with scaly and warty skin thickening and an erosion of the soft tissues that line the mouth and connecting gums, another symptom is inflamed gums.

Juvenile Periodontosis:
As its name suggests, juvenile periodontosis affects young people, specifically those who have a virulent type of bacteria that's hard to stop and treat successfully. In many cases, these patients can lose their first molars and front teeth if aggressive periodontal therapy isn't performed. Fortunately, there are microbiological techniques that can isolate the bacteria to make this disease easier for periodontists to diagnose and treat. Treatment involves a microbiological and surgical approach, which along with meticulous home care, often cures this condition.

NOTE:
Occasional bleeding is common in gums, especially if you're just starting out on a disciplined flossing regime. But the bleeding should dissipate within a week. If it doesn't, and you've already had any plaque properly removed by your dental hygienist, it is urgent that you see a dentist. Sometimes bleeding gums are signals of something much more serious, such as a blood disorder or even leukemia. When the puffiness isn't related to a plaque issue, a blood test should be done to determine whether there is another health issue.