Is it normal to have bleeding gums during pregnancy?
Are bleeding gums an early sign of pregnancy?
Pregnancy can be an exciting time, but it can also be a time of massive change for your body.
All these changes can leave pregnant mothers wondering what is and isn’t a normal pregnancy symptom.
Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy
If you’re still waiting on a positive pregnancy test, or you just recently had one, you might be wondering what signs and symptoms to look for.
Many pregnant women notice changes in their oral health, including bleeding gums.
However, bleeding gums can occur at other times and may be concerning.
Does this mean bleeding gums during pregnancy can be concerning?
Why Do Some Women Experience Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy?
As if feeling nauseated isn’t enough, our mouths can become quite sensitive during pregnancy. This is due to hormone changes.
About half of all pregnant women experience swollen, sensitive and bleeding gums during pregnancy. This is called pregnancy gingivitis, which is a mild form of gum disease.
Gingivitis can occur at other times, which is why bleeding gums can occur anytime and not just during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, hormone changes and a 50% increase in blood volume which can lead to inflammation. When your gums are inflamed, they’re more likely to be affected by bacteria.
Our mouths are full of bacteria, both good and bad. Proper oral hygiene helps prevent bad bacteria from impacting your teeth and gums.
What Is Pregnancy Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease that causes irritation, swelling and redness of your gums. Pregnancy gingivitis is the same thing as typical gingivitis. However it happens to develop during pregnancy when hormones make your gums more sensitive to bacteria.
Most women only notice bleeding while brushing or flossing. While it can be concerning, you need to be sure to continue to brush and floss. Proper oral hygiene is the best way to manage gingivitis.
When Does Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy Happen?
While there’s no set time period when you may experience bleeding gums (and remember, if half experience it, that means half don’t), it could begin as early as hormonal changes begin.
If you’re looking for symptoms of early pregnancy, and you’re experiencing sensitive gums, it might be a response to hormonal changes.
However, the time between ovulation and your next period (luteal phase) naturally has changes in hormones. For some women these hormone shifts are quite similar to early pregnancy symptoms.
The occurrence of pregnancy gingivitis can vary depending on oral hygiene, hormone fluctuations, and inflammation response.
If you suffer from morning sickness, it can make it difficult to brush thoroughly. This alone can increase the chance of gingivitis during the first trimester.
Bleeding Gums During The Second Trimester
While there’s no distinct timeline for when pregnancy gingivitis occurs, the second trimester tends to be more common.
Your body’s response to bacteria can be hindered during pregnancy. Your immune system is temporarily changed during pregnancy.
The combination of inflammation and changes to immune response makes pregnant women more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque.
If you’ve made it through the first trimester and you’re suddenly experiencing bleeding gums, the continued hormone and immune system changes could be to blame.
Can Bleeding Gums Harm My Baby?
Wondering if pregnancy gingivitis can harm your baby? You’re in good company. Not only are mothers concerned about the potential impact of gingivitis, dentists, physicians and researchers wonder the same thing.
In most cases pregnancy gingivitis isn’t concerning, especially when you’re working to manage it. There are some studies which link gingivitis to pregnancy complications, including:
- Increased risk of preterm birth
- Increased risk of a low birth weight baby
- A correlation between gingivitis and preeclampsia.
It’s important to remember an increased risk isn’t a guarantee. There’s also a difference between pregnancy gingivitis where you’re practicing good oral hygiene and gingivitis that is poorly managed.
Pregnancy Tumor On Bleeding Gums
Anytime we hear the word tumor it can be quite scary. However, some women will develop benign tumors (growths) during pregnancy. While they can occur anywhere on the body, they’re often found on the gums.
These small tumors can appear on your gums during pregnancy and usually go away after birth. In some cases, they can become quite irritated or they might remain after birth. In these situations, your dentist or oral surgeon might recommend removal.
If you notice a new growth on your gums (or anywhere on your body) you should reach out to your midwife, doctor or dentist.
In most instances, these tumours are harmless and another unpleasant pregnancy ailment. However, it’s important to have any new symptoms checked out by a healthcare professional.
Treatment For Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy
While pregnancy gingivitis is common, it’s something to be watched and managed. When the inflammation is a response to typical pregnancy hormones, there isn’t much you can do to get rid of it.
However, there are things you can do to manage, reduce or eliminate complications. Treatment for bleeding gums includes:
- Proper oral hygiene such as brushing your teeth two or three times a day and flossing daily
- Use a pregnancy approved mouth wash
- Go for at least one regular dental cleaning during pregnancy. Some dentists will recommend an additional cleaning if you have moderate or severe gingivitis
- Limit sweets, acidic foods, and watch processed carbohydrates (such as white breads, pastas) as they are broken down into sugars which can harm your teeth.
- Use soft bristle toothbrushes as they’re less likely to irritate or cut your sensitive gums
- If you’re experiencing pregnancy vomiting, you should rinse your mouth with water after vomiting. Wait for at least 30 to 60 minutes before brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth while still having stomach acid in your mouth can further irritate gums and teeth
- Use a tongue cleaner to reduce the overall bacteria in your mouth
- A healthy diet of whole foods, which supports your immune system.
Bleeding Gums After Pregnancy
If you suffer from pregnancy gingivitis, it’s likely to resolve right after birth. However, it’s still possible to experience bleeding gums even after baby arrives.
It can take quite a while for pregnancy hormones to settle which can impact your inflammation and immune system response.
Many new mothers are sleep deprived and providing round the clock care for their baby. This can lead to inadequate rest and poor diet. Both can impact the immune system and mean less than ideal oral hygiene.
If you’re still experiencing bleeding gums after pregnancy, you should:
- Try to maintain a healthy diet which supports your immune system and postnatal healing
- Make proper oral hygiene a priority
- Be sure to get a dental cleaning every 6 months
- Maintain the other treatments mentioned above while your hormones and immune system begin to regulate after birth.
Bleeding gums, tumors on your gums, and scary words like gingivitis can be worrisome during pregnancy.
However, for most pregnant women and new mothers, it’s a temporary problem requiring just a bit of maintenance.
Wondering how to have a healthier pregnancy? Be sure to read Pregnancy Nutrition – The Most Important Things You Need To Know to learn more about how diet can impact your pregnancy.