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Bleeding Gums: A Possible Sign Of A Serious Disorder

Bleeding gums can result from brushing or flossing your teeth too vigorously, hormonal changes, a build-up of plaque, or even a serious disease called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura—ITP. Your dentist can detect this problem during a routine exam, which is an excellent reason to have bi-annual checkups.

Causes of ITP

Platelets are the cells in your blood that allow it to clot. When the platelet levels are extremely low, unexplained bleeding and bruising can occur. This disorder isn't generally a cause for alarm in children; the disease can occur after a simple viral infection and usually resolves itself. In adults though, the problem can become chronic.

Symptoms of ITP

Bleeding gums are just one symptom of ITP. As people age, they generally bruise easier than when they were younger. This isn't a cause for concern unless the bruising escalates to an abnormal amount. Seek the advice of a physician, since it may indicate ITP. Other symptoms of this disease include spontaneous nosebleeds, an unusually heavy menstrual flow, blood that is evident in your stools or urine, and general fatigue. Another type of symptom is a red rash, typically on your lower legs. This rash is actually tiny spots of purplish red blood and indicates superficial bleeding.

During the Examination

The physician will diagnose ITP by conducting an exam and doing a complete blood count. If the platelet count is low, he or she may try to determine the cause by aspirating a sample of your bone marrow.

Treatment of ITP in Adults

If a case of adult ITP is minor, the physician may choose to monitor his or her platelet levels over time and forgo any other treatment. Sometimes the doctor will recommend stopping the use of certain drugs, such as aspirin, Coumadin, or Ibuprofen. These can inhibit the function of your platelets. The doctor may recommend corticosteroids to increase your platelet count. Other treatments may include biologic, intravenous immune globulin or romiplostim medications. Severe cases may require removing the spleen via surgery.

Generally, if a patient doesn't respond well to one form of treatment, the doctor will discuss other treatments to try. Typically, the doctor recommends the least problematic treatment first. Some of the treatments do have side effects that can be bothersome. Don't become overly concerned if your gums bleed and you do not exhibit any other symptoms of ITP. Do schedule a dental exam, such as with Dr. Dean Simmons DDS PA, to determine the cause and rule out any serious problems.