Pregnancy is a magical time for many moms-to-be, who have 40 weeks to marvel at the miracle of growing a baby from a small collection of cells to a fully-formed human being. For many pregnant women, however, there are also a few unexpected surprises, from swollen and tender…well, everything, to potentially serious issues like gestational diabetes.
One thing many women don’t expect is for pregnancy to affect their oral health. However, it’s not at all uncommon for pregnant women to begin noticing that their gums are red, swollen, and tender, and that they bleed during brushing and flossing. Is this something you should worry about? Here’s what you need to know.
Why Are My Gums Bleeding?
If your gums are in perfect health before pregnancy, you practice proper oral hygiene, and you schedule regular dental visits, it’s only natural to become concerned when your gums suddenly take a turn for the worse after you conceive. Why does this happen?
You’re probably suffering from a common phenomenon known as pregnancy gingivitis. During pregnancy, your gums can become more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque. Like so many changes that occur during pregnancy, this is related to hormones particular to this pregnancy.
The elevated levels of progesterone your body produces while you’re pregnant not only make your gums more sensitive, but can also spur the growth of certain bacteria to flourish in your mouth, exacerbating the condition. This, in turn, can lead to inflammation and other symptoms associated with gingivitis.
Symptoms may be moderate to severe, ranging from a little redness and swelling to severe swelling and bleeding of the gums. Symptoms tend to present any time between the second and eighth month of pregnancy.
What Should I Do?
If you’re worried about pregnancy gingivitis, there’s a lot you can do to prevent it, and if you start to notice symptoms partway through your pregnancy, you can take steps to improve the health of your gums.
The best defense is a good offense, and this means taking care of your oral health before you’re even pregnant. If you already have poor oral health, pregnancy can make the condition even worse.
It’s always a good idea to brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash regularly (after meals, or at least twice a day), as well as schedule regular dental visits for cleaning, check-up, x-rays, and more. This becomes even more important when you’re trying to conceive or after you find out you’re pregnant. If you notice any symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis, contact your dentist to discuss treatment options.