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Pregnancy Gingivitis – Swollen, Bleeding Gums When Pregnant

gum disease and pregnancy

Are you pregnant and experiencing swollen, bleeding gums when you brush? You may have pregnancy gingivitis – a type of , characterized by gum inflammation. Pregnancy gingivitis affects more than half of all pregnant women (between 50 to 70 percent), and it’s often due to the increased hormonal fluctuations that occur in pregnancy.

Many pregnant women do not believe that their oral health can affect their unborn child. However, because of the infectious nature of gum disease, gingivitis in pregnancy can sometimes cause complications for the baby within your womb. It is therefore extremely important that you visit your dentist at the first sign of gum disease – i.e. swollen and bleeding gums.

What Causes Pregnancy Gingivitis?

When you’re pregnant, the hormonal changes that take place – especially the higher level of the hormone progesterone – can leave your body more susceptible to oral bacteria. If left unchecked as a result of poor dental health or poor dental hygiene, this can swiftly lead to pregnancy gingivitis.

Progesterone can make it easier for the bacteria that cause gingivitis to grow in your mouth, and the hormone may also cause your gum tissue to become more sensitive to plaque. Progesterone can also exaggerate your body’s response to the toxins that come from the plaque. All of these hormonal changes put you at greater risk for developing pregnancy gingivitis. If you have pre-existing gum disease, pregnancy can make your dental problems worse.

Signs of Pregnancy Gingivitis

If you develop pregnancy gingivitis, your symptoms can appear anytime between 8 weeks pregnant and 37 weeks pregnant. Signs that you may have gingivitis include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Redder-looking gums that bleed when you brush
  • Severe swelling of the gums
  • Bleeding of your gum tissue

Some problems that pregnant woman with gingivitis may face, include bad breath, severe swelling, redness of the gums and painful bleeding gum (which are further aggravated when she brushes her teeth).

If the disease continues to be left untreated, tooth loss may occur as well as cardiovascular disease. When an expectant mother has a periodontal disease, such as gingivitis, the increased oral bacteria can release toxins into her body, which could cause problems for her unborn baby.

There have been several major research studies that have linked gum disease in pregnancy to premature births. According to one well-known clinical study, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, pregnant women who had chronic gum disease were 4 to 7 times more likely to give birth early, compared to pregnant women with healthy gums.

Premature babies are usually born underweight and are often underdeveloped; therefore, an early birth increases the chances of various infections, organ failure and even death.

How to Prevent Pregnancy Gingivitis

The spread and proliferation of oral bacteria that results in pregnancy gingivitis, swollen and bleeding gums in pregnancy, is due to poor dental health. So, it becomes extremely important during pregnancy that you follow these dental hygiene tips:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes
  • Use dental floss at least once every three days (daily is best)
  • Use mouthwash every day.

Regular dental checks are also advisable, and it may be a good idea to ask your dentist for a dental cleaning during your visits. You should get your teeth cleaned at least once every six months for the healthiest teeth.

Because one of the most common pregnancy symptoms is food cravings, you should remember that poor eating habits – such as eating a lot of sugar filled foods – can cause cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems. Try to stick to a sugar free diet and eat healthy foods to keep your teeth healthy and your gums gingivitis-free.

If your swollen and tender teeth bleed when you brush, or if your regular toothbrush is bothering you, switch to a softer bristle toothbrush. These are often more gentle on the gums.

To help reduce plaque build-up, if you can’t brush your teeth after each meal, consider rinsing your mouth with water instead. This may help wash away some plaque.

Getting dental treatments, such as a routine teeth cleaning, is perfectly safe in pregnancy. Even the use of dental X-rays pose very little dangers to your unborn child. (X-rays to the stomach and abdomen are typically the most potentially harmful in terms of radiation.) To be on the safe side, always tell your dentist that you’re pregnant.

Contact Your Dentist at the First Sign of Pregnancy Gingivitis

Remember that you should contact your dentist immediately for treatment at the first sign of pregnancy gingivitis. Swollen gums, extremely bad breath, and loose teeth are all signs of gingivitis or periodontal disease.


Special Thanks to My Guest Blogger.

Becky Mackay in as online writer, with a keen interest in health and lifestyle. You can find out many more health top tips on her Twitter page


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About the author: This blog post was written by a guest contributor. If you’d like to guest post for Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies, please read my Guest Writing Policy for a guideline of what I am looking for. All guest posts need to be at least 500 words and be original to this site only.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • November 10, 2011, 4:22 am

    It is really a well-written blog and I enjoyed reading this blog. I agree with you that it is important to take care of the oral health during the pregnancy as this will keep both the mother and the baby healthy. It is good to maintain a regular dental check ups in order to have healthy teeth.

  • pregnancy November 9, 2011, 5:30 am

    i like this blog really!

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