Similar to the gingivitis that can occur, pregnancy gingivitis can include a mild inflammation of the gums due to plaque buildup. Between 60 – 70% of women experience red, sensitive, or swollen gums while pregnant, and experiencing bleeding gums, especially when you brush and floss, is pretty normal.
The same pregnancy hormones that cause your mucous membranes to swell and your sinuses to clog up also inflame your gums. From around week 15 of pregnancy on, your gums are more likely to bleed and become inflamed.
Read on to learn the causes of sore and bleeding gums during pregnancy and what you can do to treat the early warning signs of pregnancy gingivitis.
Why You’re At Risk of Gingivitis When Pregnant
Your mouth is an intricate ecosystem. Your immune system interacts with the bacteria in your mouth to establish a delicate balance. When you are pregnant, your body naturally creates more progesterone and other hormones that can quickly throw off this essential balance.
Progesterone is critical for a healthy pregnancy. It keeps the uterine lining healthy, balances blood sugar levels, helps your body rest and sleep, and even lowers anxiety. While progesterone provides many benefits, it can also promote bacterial growth in your mouth. These elevated progesterone levels increase your risk of developing pregnancy gingivitis.
Pregnancy Gingivitis Symptoms
Pregnancy gingivitis starts to be seen as early as the second month of pregnancy. It’s often the worst during the eighth month, and symptoms generally include:
Gum tissue that is red instead of a healthy pink shade
Tender or swollen gum tissue
Gums that bleed easily while brushing or flossing
Sensitivity in the gums while eating or drinking
A loose tooth
A growth in your mouth (even if it’s not painful)
Pregnancy Gingivitis Treatment
Pregnancy gingivitis is a reversible issue. If left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. Periodontitis causes harm to your gums, but it can also progress to the bones supporting your teeth and cause irreversible damage. Contact your dentist if you show any signs of pregnancy gingivitis. Your dentist can perform an examination and evaluate your symptoms.
Pregnancy gingivitis can be treated by removing plaque and bacteria that cause gum inflammation and irritation. Your dentist or hygienist may also suggest new tools for you to use at home to help control the buildup of disease-causing bacteria.
Keeping Your Gums Healthy During Pregnancy
There are a few steps you can take to keep your gums healthy during pregnancy and avoid gingivitis:
Eat a Healthy and Balanced Diet
We know you’re probably overwhelmed by the dietary considerations that your doctor has recommended. To maintain your healthy teeth and gums and build your baby’s strong teeth and bones, be sure to get plenty of calcium, vitamins D, C, and A, phosphorous, and protein. Calcium is especially important, so embrace dairy products.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking water throughout the day will flush food particles from your mouth before they irritate your gums. Water will also protect your teeth and gums from acids and prevent dry mouth.
Flossing removes bacteria that are often responsible for gingivitis from the gum line. It also reaches spots that your toothbrush isn’t always able to access. If you have difficulty remembering to floss, find a product you like to help you pick up the habit. If your gums are especially tender during your pregnancy, a water flosser may be the best bet. If you often forget to floss, you can also leave notes to yourself next to the bed or on the bathroom mirror as a reminder.
Don’t Skip Dental Treatments During Pregnancy
Continuing to see your dentist for routine exams and cleanings is critical while pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have issued multiple publications, including a Committee Opinion, stating that dental treatments are entirely safe during all trimesters of pregnancy. These include dental X-rays, routine preventive care, dental restorations, emergency treatment like dental extractions or root canals, and a local anesthetic administration.
Whether you have pregnancy gingivitis or your goal is to prevent it, Premier Dental Center is here to help! Contact us today to discuss ways you can help keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your pregnancy.