It is estimated that around half of women will develop bleeding gums in pregnancy. Swollen and red, these tender gums have a tendency to bleed during brushing and flossing. Commonly referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis”, it is officially classified as a form of gum disease, although mild in nature.
What causes bleeding gums in pregnancy?
The changes in your hormones not only increase blood flow to your gums but also make them more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque. Bleeding gums can happen as early as the first trimester and can be an early sign of pregnancy.
If not treated properly, this form of gingivitis can lead to more serious issues, like proper gingivitis and even tooth decay.
In addition to general bleeding gums in pregnancy, some pregnant women notice small lumps that bleed when brushed or bumped – or even when they eat. Rarer than sensitive gums, these small lumps on the gums are called pyogenic granuloma, or pregnancy tumors. When first diagnosed the name can scare many women, but the truth is that they are generally harmless.
Nonetheless, if you do notice these bumps in your mouth (and they can get up to 3/4” in size), it’s a good idea to see a dentist just so that they can do a proper examination. In most cases, there is nothing that needs to be done except regular dental hygiene and care. Occasionally women will opt to have them removed surgically if they don’t go away after delivery or if they are particularly bothersome when you eat or brush your teeth.
Can bleeding gums in pregnancy harm baby?
For most women during pregnancy, one of their main concerns is the health of their growing baby. Which is why many want to know if bleeding gums in pregnancy is potentially harmful to their baby.
Although conclusive results haven’t been found yet, most experts agree that some bleeding from the gums is not harmful and expected. By practicing good oral hygiene, most women have nothing to worry about.
However, it is important to note that for a few women with severe gum disease (also called periodontitis), there is possibly a risk of preterm labor, lower birth weight, and perhaps even preeclampsia. This is an area of ongoing research so if you have a history of gum disease, speak with your dentist and GP. That way you can get a tailored gum care regime and proper monitoring during your pregnancy.
Looking after bleeding gums in pregnancy:
Dangerous or not, all pregnant women should be extra vigilant when taking care of their teeth. Following proper oral hygiene steps can keep you healthy and ensure that your baby is too.
Dentists recommend that you should:
- Maintain regular dentist cleaning schedule
- Floss daily (before bed is great)
- Brush after each meal or at least 2x each day
- Use alcohol-free mouth rinse daily
- Brush your tongue
- Switch to a soft toothbrush if you don’t already use one
When you visit your dentist, be sure to tell them that you are pregnant and how many weeks along you are so that they can provide you with the best care and advice. If before getting pregnant you experienced gingivitis or gum disease, it’s important to visit your dentist at least two times during your pregnancy, or more as recommended by your personal doctor.
Some women are fearful that dental procedures can be harmful to their baby, but the truth is that delaying procedures can be riskier. As long as you let your doctor know about your pregnancy, they can take the proper precautions to keep you both safe and healthy.
In order to keep your teeth as healthy as possible, you can also follow this expert advice:
- Increase the amount of Vitamin C in your diet; it’s known to improve the strength of your gums and can even prevent you from experiencing bleeding gums in the first place.
- Increase your Calcium intake during pregnancy for healthy teeth and bones, great sources include: milk, cheese and yoghurt.
- Increase your Vitamin D intakes as this helps your body absorb calcium, great sources include: cheese, fatty fish (e.g salmon) and eggs.
- Reduce the number of sugary sweets you consume, especially those that are chewy because they can aggravate your sensitive gums and stick to teeth more.
- When you can’t brush your teeth right after a meal, use sugarless gum, nuts, or cheese to help fight bacteria build up.
To ease any of your concerns as an expecting mom, take advantage of TL Dental’s no gap check-ups and professional cleans offered exclusively during pregnancy. We are passionate about ensuring mums-to-be have healthy teeth and gums during and after their pregnancies. Schedule an appointment today by calling us or filling out our convenient online form.