Swollen, red, tender gums that bleed when you floss or brush are a sign of pregnancy gingivitis, and they’re a common complaint during pregnancy. (About half of moms – to – be have these symptoms.) The inflammation is caused by higher progesterone levels that make your gums more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque and by increased blood supply to your mouth.
You’re a pregnant mom, calmly getting ready for bed and brushing your teeth, when all of a sudden you notice blood in your mouth. Of course you’ve been told to watch out for blood during your pregnancy – but you didn’t expect to see it coming out of your mouth. Is this a cause for concern, or simply a common complaint?
As it turns out, bleeding gums during pregnancy is a very common occurrence known as pregnancy gingivitis. Your mouth tends to bleed more when you brush or floss because of increased blood supply to your mouth, and because of an increase in your progesterone levels (which can make your mouth more sensitive).
Pregnancy gingivitis is generally not a concern, but it is imperative that you keep up with your normal dental health regimen throughout your pregnancy. If the gingivitis worsens, it may develop into a more serious condition called periodontitis, which can destroy the soft tissue that supports your teeth. Additionally, some studies suggest that women who are suffering from periodontitis may have an increased risk of premature births (although no definitive link has been proven).
The best you can do for your dental health during your pregnancy is to keep up your regular preventive routine. That means brushing and flossing at least twice a day, and avoiding sticky candy and sugary sodas. While you are brushing, make an extra effort to brush your tongue as well – it will help clear your mouth of bacteria that may be irritating your gums.
Additionally, if you are suffering from morning sickness that causes you to vomit, don’t forget to brush your teeth afterwards. Your mouth will probably be harboring all sorts of bacteria that can eat away at your teeth, and brushing can help. And even though you probably feel miserable, you’ll feel marginally better with a clean and fresh mouth.
If you see your dentist every six months for a checkup, this means that you should visit him or her at least once during your pregnancy. You can put off routine x-rays during your pregnancy, but if you have a dental problem, don’t avoid taking care of it. Your dentist should be able to recommend a painkiller (if needed) or antibiotic that can be used safely during pregnancy.
Last but not least, you should call your dentist if notice any kind of small growth in your mouth, especially one that bleeds easily. Some women develop benign modules in their mouth during pregnancy. They are generally harmless and should go away after you have your baby, but you should always have any unusual growth checked out by the dentist. These growths can be removed while you are still pregnant if they cause problems like recurring bleeding. And of course, don’t hesitate to call your dentist if you are experiencing a toothache or other dental problems.
Having sensitive, easy-to-bleed gums is no picnic, especially when you are dealing with all of the other side effects of pregnancy. But even though it may be a little bit unnerving to see a small amount of blood while you are brushing your teeth, rest assured that it is fairly normal and should subside quickly. In the meantime, just chalk it up to yet another one of the strange and wonderful changes that your body goes through while you are pregnant.