Is a Medical Condition Causing Your Gums to Bleed?

sensitive-gums-polk-city-ia2Although lifestyle and poor oral hygiene are among the leading causes of periodontal disease, not all risk factors are preventable. Dr. Ryan Hussong, a general dentist who treats sensitive gums in Polk City, IA, discusses health conditions that make you more susceptible to developing periodontal disease.


Bleeding gums and sensitivity is a common side effect of chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and several oral medications used to treat cancer. Treatment for cancer, whether of the mouth or other localized area, causes dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, mouth pain, and vomiting, which damages tooth enamel. To manage these effects, cancer patients can adjust their diet to make swallowing less painful. Gentle cleansing of the teeth and gums helps prevent mild sensitivity from escalating into a more severe form of periodontal disease called periodontitis.


Approximately half of expectant mothers experience bleeding gums at some point during pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis is usually temporary and occurs as the result of changes in hormone levels. These changes cause increased sensitivity to the bacteria that form plaque. Although several studies have been conducted to determine the relationship between advanced gum disease, low birth weight, and preterm labor, results have been mixed. Others suggest a link between periodontal disease and preeclampsia. Either way, says Dr. Hussong, soon-to-be mothers should continue scheduling dental exams and cleanings throughout pregnancy.


As with pregnancy, fluctuating hormone levels create risks for women as they approach menopause. Dry mouth, a common problem among menopausal women, can be exacerbated by prescription medications for hormone replacement therapy, such as Premarin, Prempro, and Estrace. Saliva is a natural cleansing agent that rinses away bacteria and food from your mouth before plaque can form. Without saliva, your mouth becomes more hospitable to the bacteria that cause plaque and periodontal disease. Special dry mouth toothpaste and mouthwash offer relief, as do over-the-counter saliva substitutes and sugar-free gum.

Celiac Disease

The autoimmune disorder celiac disease affects your body’s ability to digest gluten, proteins found in wheat and other grains. Because the small intestine cannot effectively absorb nutrients from food, minerals lost from the tooth enamel cannot be replenished as readily. Tooth decay becomes a serious threat, and infections are common. Periodontal disease is an excellent example of this. Fortunately, managing the destructive dental effects of celiac disease is possible with fluoride treatments and restorative dentistry.

Have you experienced symptoms of gum disease? To learn more about treatment for sensitive gums in Polk City, IA, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental Group at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients living in West Des Moines, Ames, Grimes, Urbandale, Ankeny, and the surrounding areas. For the latest news and insights, follow us on Facebook.