"It is important not to become alarmed by every change in the way your gums look or feel in light of this information," said Bueltmann. "We just want people to realize that oral health shouldn't be taken for granted."
He continued, "Gum swelling is quite common and may involve one area of the gums surrounding a tooth or the entire gums in the mouth. In addition, there are many causes of swollen gums that could be as minor as hypersensitivity to chewing gum, reactions to prescription medications or a popcorn kernel logged into the gums."
One of the most common reasons for swollen, bleeding gums is gingivitis, the mildest form of periodontal disease where gums become red, swell and bleed easily with brushing or flossing due to plaque buildup. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage, and it is reversible with professional cleaning and good oral home care. Research shows that nearly one in three U.S. adults aged 30 to 54 have this or a more serious form of periodontal disease.
However, gum swelling could also be a way your mouth is telling you that something is amiss with your health. Other reasons for swollen, bleeding gums could be more serious conditions, such as leukemia or diabetes.
"The most important message this tells us is that if you experience swollen gums, bleeding upon brushing or flossing or any other abnormal symptoms in your mouth, you should call your dentist or periodontist for a complete examination sooner rather than later," said Bueltmann.
A referral to a periodontist and free oral health brochures are available by calling 800-FLOSS-EM or visiting the AAP's Web site at http://www.perio.org.