Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy
Now that you are pregnant, you may have noticed that your gums are bothering you more than usual. If your gums are sore or tender, or if they bleed when you are brushing or flossing, you may have a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy gingivitis is a very common occurrence during pregnancy however; if it is not treated it can lead to complications with your pregnancy. If you notice any of the symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis it is important that you visit with your dentist in order to get appropriate treatment.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is more commonly referred to as gum disease, and it will affect over 90% of Americans at some point in their lives. Caused by the sticky plaque that accumulates on our teeth and gums, it can leave your gums swollen and tender, and even cause them to bleed. Gingivitis can also make brushing and flossing extremely painful. Gingivitis is one of the earliest stages of a more severe type of gum disease, called periodontal disease. Untreated gum diseases will progress into periodontal disease, which can cause irreversible damage to your gums and teeth.
What is Pregnancy Gingivitis?
Pregnancy gingivitis is simply gingivitis that occurs during pregnancy. More than 50% of all pregnant women experience some form of pregnancy gingivitis. Though gingivitis disease is annoying, it is usually harmless, unless it is left untreated. If pregnancy gingivitis progresses to periodontal disease, it can increase your risk of going into preterm labor.
Causes of Gum Disease in Pregnancy
There are a number of causes of gum disease in pregnancy. One such reason is increased blood flow. During pregnancy, your blood flow actually increases by between 30% and 50%. This is to ensure that your baby is provided with the appropriate nutrients to grow and develop. Unfortunately, this increased blood flow can also cause you gums to swell and become very tender. It may even cause your gums to bleed, leaving them at increased risk for gingivitis.
The rise in your hormones can also play a role in you developing pregnancy gingivitis. These higher levels of hormones leave your gums and teeth more sensitive to the bacteria that hide in plaque. This is one reason why gingivitis is so common in pregnancy.
Morning sickness may also play a small role in contributing to pregnancy gingivitis. Many women find that they can no longer stand the smell or taste of toothpaste, making it difficult to maintain good oral hygiene. Increased vomiting during pregnancy can also take its toll on your gums. Vomit contains stomach acid which can eat away at your gums and teeth, making your mouth very sensitive.
Symptoms of Pregnancy Gingivitis
There are a few symptoms of gum disease to keep an eye out for. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.
- tender, swollen gums
- red or purple-red gums
- gums that look shiny
- bleeding gums after brushing or flossing
- persistent bad breath
- a bad taste in the mouth that won’t go away
- mouth sores
Complications of Pregnancy Gingivitis
Generally speaking, pregnancy gingivitis is nothing to worry about. However, if your gingivitis is left untreated it could cause potential health problems for both you and your baby.
Sometimes, gum disease can cause sores to form on your gums. These sores are often called pregnancy tumors. These tumors can grow up to three-quarters of an inch in size and may cause discomfort or even pain. If ruptured, pregnancy tumors can become infected. Most tumors can be easily removed though, before they cause any complications.
It is important to take pregnancy gingivitis seriously because, if untreated, it will lead to periodontal disease. Periodontal gum disease is an advanced form of gingivitis that attacks the bones and tissues supporting the teeth. This disease can cause permanent damage to your mouth, and can cause you to lose both your gums and teeth. Periodontal disease has also been linked to a higher risk of premature birth – in fact, women with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to give birth prematurely.
Treating Gingivitis in Pregnancy
There are no cures for gum disease although its damage can sometimes be reversed or halted. All pregnant women should receive at least two thorough dental cleanings during pregnancy. This should help to reduce your chances of developing pregnancy gingivitis or periodontal disease.
If you already have gingivitis, the best gum disease treatment is to have a complete cleaning at your dentist’s office. Your dentist will scale your teeth using a variety of instruments. This will remove excess plaque from your teeth and around your gum line. Serious gingivitis may also require root planning, a process during which the roots of your teeth are cleaned of plaque completely.
As always, the best treatment for gingivitis is prevention. Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine will ensure that you have healthy gums and teeth for a long time to come. Try following these tips:
- brush twice a day for at least five minutes
- use a soft bristle brush – this will prevent you from irritating your gums
- floss once a day or use an anti-bacterial mouthwash to get rid of plaque from between your teeth
- avoid eating large amounts of refined sugar – this will cut down on plaque and tartar buildup
- visit your dentist regularly
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