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bleeding gums

Sep 17, 1997

What is the situation with bleeding gums. I know that gums can bleed after one brushes ones teeth but can they also be bleeding at other times? What about people who do not brush their teeth in say, weeks or months? Would it be a risk to drink from a cup a person like this has used, or to kiss them?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. If a person frequently has bleeding gums, especially after they are brushing or flossing their teeth, this is a symptom of gum disease. The more severe the gum disease, the greater the frequency of bleeding. If a person does not regularly brush and floss their teeth, there is a good chance that person will develop gum disease over time. If a person has not brushed and flossed their teeth in months, there is a very good chance that person has gum disease. It is therefore very important they see their dentist as soon as possible.

People with gum disease are most likely to bleed after brushing/flossing, and after eating hard foods like apples. They do not bleed all the time. Therefore, even if a person has gum disease, it would be extremely unusual to be at risk from drinking glasses, kissing, or receiving oral sex. There would only be a risk if they were actively bleeding in their mouth. Remember, people do not normally have blood in their mouth! Therefore, the risks from kissing and receiving oral sex are normally very remote. And remember, HIV has never been transmitted through any form of casual contact (including sharing glasses!). If there were visible blood in a persons mouth, then there would be a risk. But if there was not visible blood in the persons mouth, there would not be any significant risk of infection.

For more information, see the posting, "Kissing and HIV -- An Update".

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at or call me at 1-800-842-AIDS (Nationwide). I'm glad to help!

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