Pregnancy gingivitis is a common concern for expectant moms. Discover the need-to-know tips to ensure healthy smiles for you and your baby
So, you just found out you’re pregnant.
You have such an incredible journey ahead of you, and we couldn’t be more excited for you!
There are a lot of changes to your body you can expect going forward, and this week we’ll be talking about how pregnancy can affect your dental health.
We want to take this opportunity to zero in on a common condition for expectant moms: pregnancy gingivitis.
Many pregnant women wonder why their gums become so sensitive and bleed when they’ve never had any issues before.
We’re here to tell you that this condition is totally normal, and with the proper care, you can minimize and even keep its adverse effects under control.
Keep reading as we explore what causes pregnancy gingivitis, how it affects your body, common questions, and the best tips for management and treatment.
What Causes Pregnancy Gingivitis?
As the name suggests, pregnancy gingivitis is simply a form of gingivitis that occurs in pregnant women.
But to understand the type that soon-to-be mothers deal with, let’s first review your garden variety gingivitis.
Ordinary gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums that occurs due to plaque and bacteria accumulating on your teeth and along your gum lines.
The toxins from these harmful oral hitchhikers trigger an inflammatory reaction in the body, causing it to send excess blood to the area. This increase in local circulation shows up as red, swollen, and even bleeding gums.
It’s a mild form of gum disease that, if left untreated, can progress to a more severe form called periodontitis.
Now, when you become pregnant, your body starts pumping out a lot more of certain hormones like progesterone and estrogen.
These crucial hormones increase blood flow to your gums, making them feel more sensitive, tender, swollen, and inflamed.
As a result, when you go to brush or floss, you may notice your gums look puffy and red and may even bleed easily.
How Common is Pregnancy Gingivitis?
Recent research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry found that anywhere from 40% to 80% of pregnant women have pregnancy gingivitis.
Typically, expectant moms are more likely to develop this condition in the first and second trimesters, but it can linger and even be at its worst during the third.
Will it Go Away Postpartum?
In most cases, pregnancy gingivitis will go away once your baby is born. But if your symptoms continue, let your dentist know immediately.
The sooner you get the care you need, the sooner you can bring your smile back to health.
Symptoms to Look Out for
This part’s easy.
The symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis are exactly the same as the normal condition. If you notice any of the following issues, make an appointment with your San Diego dentist as soon as possible:
- Red, swollen, or sensitive gums – or all three
- Chronic bad breath
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
Periodontitis, the advanced stage of gingivitis we mentioned above, can cause severe decay and bone loss, leading to missing teeth in extreme cases.
This risk makes early detection and care critical for you and your baby’s dental health, so don’t wait to seek dental care if you see any of these signs.
Ways to Manage & Treat Pregnancy Gingivitis
Although there’s no way to predict whether or not you’ll experience gingivitis during your pregnancy, there are several steps you can take to minimize its effects if you do.
Let’s take a look at the four essential tips to manage and treat this common condition:
- Daily dental care at home – As with most dental health concerns, your oral hygiene outside the dentist’s office plays a massive role. As a future mom, make sure to brush with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day and floss once a day to cultivate a healthy smile for you and your little one.*
- Eating a healthy diet – We know how cravings can get, but try to maintain as healthy a diet as you can during your pregnancy. That means eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and dairy products. Staying away from added sugars and unhealthy carbohydrates that attack your teeth and gums can reduce the symptoms and severity of pregnancy gingivitis. But your nutrition choices during pregnancy aren’t just for you. From the American Dental Association (ADA), “Your baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy, and eating well can help them form correctly.”
- Rinsing with mouthwash or saltwater – Using over-the-counter mouthwash or rinsing with salt water can reduce inflammation, ease discomfort, and eliminate harmful bacteria and bad breath caused by pregnancy gingivitis. If you’re unsure which store-bought mouthwash to use, take a look at our article about mouthwash here.
- Visiting your San Diego dentist every six months (or more if needed) – We can’t stress how important seeing your dentist is during your pregnancy. During routine checkups, your dentist can monitor your teeth and gums and offer any necessary recommendations to protect you and your baby’s oral health. Depending on how things are going, your dental care professional may recommend more frequent visits to manage symptoms and treat any issues you may have.
*If morning sickness or a sensitive gag reflex make brushing difficult, check out our complete guide for expectant moms. There, you’ll find a full list of common concerns, questions, and dentist-approved guidelines to ensure you and your baby’s dental health are in tip-top shape.
Fostering Healthy Smiles for You & Your Little One
One of the main reasons we wrote today’s article was to reassure you that pregnancy gingivitis is a completely normal condition. To keep the negative effects at bay, all it takes is proper oral hygiene.
At Dental Express, we want you to be prepared to handle your pregnancy dental care needs with confidence. Nothing is more important than you and your baby’s health, and we’re always here to help you on your journey.
Our clinical team has decades of combined experience working with people at all stages of life, including pregnancy. And, of course, we have some experienced moms too!
A lot can change during pregnancy, especially when it comes to your dental health, and having a family dentist that knows what you’re going through can make all the difference.
With six locations in the San Diego area – all dedicated to you-focused care – your dental home base is right around the corner.
Dental Express stays open six days a week, accepts walk-ins and same-day appointments, and works with every patient to accommodate their budget.
Call in, schedule online, or stop by to schedule an appointment. We’d love to help foster healthy smiles for you and your baby!