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JAMA Clinical Challenge

A Young Patient With Persistent Gingival Bleeding

Image of gingival erythema and ulcerations in a 13-year-old patient

Juan F. Yepes, DDS, MD, MPH, MS, DrPH
Dean White, DDS, MSD
A 13-year-old girl comes to your office for evaluation of ulcers, erythema, and a “peeling off” sensation in her gums. Her gums have been sore and red for at least 6 years. Initially she was diagnosed as having generalized gingivitis despite a low level of local irritants such as dental plaque or calculus. Her medical history is not significant and she is not taking any medication except cetirizine for seasonal allergies. Findings from a general physical examination are within normal limits. Her intraoral examination reveals ill-defined ulcers with marked erythema in the gums (Figure). The epithelium “peels” easily, leaving a thin membrane around the teeth. There is no evidence of significant dental plaque accumulation or the presence of local irritants such as calculus. Pertinent laboratory values (complete blood cell count, platelet count, liver panel) are within normal limits.

See the full article for an explanation and discussion.

Author Affiliations: Dr Yepes(jfyepe2@email.uky.edu) is affiliated with the Division of Pediatric Dentistry and Dr White is affiliated with the Division of Oral Pathology, University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, Lexington, Kentucky.