If your gums bleed, you may believe that you have gingivitis. While this is one of the most common causes of bleeding gums, there are other, less common causes. If your gums bleed, see your dentist for a complete examination, and treatment, if necessary. Here are three unusual reasons for bleeding gums, and what you can do about them:
If you have a digestive condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, your gums might bleed. GERD refers to when irritating acid is released from your stomach and migrates to your upper digestive tract, including your esophagus.
While stomach acid usually does not reach further than your esophagus, in some cases, it can reach your throat and your mouth. If acid from your stomach makes contact with your gums, inflammation, pain, and bleeding may occur.
If you have acid reflux disease, talk to your physician. There are a number of interventions that you can do on your own, including taking over-the-counter antacids, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding triggers such as coffee, chocolate, spicy foods, and cigarette smoking. Sleeping with the head of your bed elevated will also help keep stomach acid from backing up into your throat.
Certain medications, especially those containing aspirin, can raise your risk for bleeding gums. Aspirin is present in certain cold medications, anti-diarrheal medications, and in over-the-counter migraine treatments.
If your gums bleed when you take aspirin, try switching to a different pain and fever reducer such as acetaminophen, which is less likely to lead to platelet aggregation and subsequent oral bleeding. If, however, your health care provider has recommended that you take a daily aspirin because you are at high risk for heart attack, blood clot, or stroke, do not stop taking it without medical clearance. Doing so may put you at risk for a serious cardiovascular event.
During your menopausal years, your circulating levels of estrogen decline. Estrogen promotes healthy gum tissue and it also helps keep the bones that support your teeth healthy. If you are in menopause and notice that your gums are swollen, bright red, or bleed, see your dentist for a professional cleaning.
Also, make an appointment with your physician, who can order a blood test to evaluate your hormone levels. Estrogen replacement therapy will help promote healthy gums and diminish bleeding. It is, however, not recommended for everyone, especially women who have a personal or family history for cancers of the breast, uterus, endometrium, or ovary.
If you develop bleeding gums, especially if they are not associated with gingivitis, work with both your dentist and family physician. When you work with both of these professional disciplines, you are more likely to enjoy healthy gums as well as better overall general health.