Oral & Vision Health Blog

Pregnancy and Oral Health: Why are my gums swollen and bleeding?

Fully furnished nursery, bibs, swaddles, lots of adorable clothing. diapers for months, wipes -- the list goes on! Because when you're expecting, you go into preparation mode to make sure everything is ready for your little one's arrival. And just like you prepare for your baby, your very intelligent body prepares as well. It releases a variety of hormones over the duration of your pregnancy to facilitate the safe growth and development of your baby. While these pregnancy hormones are integral to your baby’s health, they also can lead to some oral health side effects. A few of the side effects include pregnancy gingivitis, periodontal disease and pregnancy tumors.

Pregnancy Gingivitis 

Are you anxiously looking online for answers to questions like, “why are my gums swollen and bleeding?” One of the oral health conditions that can occur during pregnancy is known as pregnancy gingivitis. Due to the increased blood flow to the gums during pregnancy, your gums may become inflamed, making them tender and swollen. This can cause your gums to bleed when you brush or floss. Pregnancy gingivitis is common and usually corrects itself after your baby is born (although it can persist if you’re nursing). The best plan of action is to make sure you visit your dentist regularly during pregnancy. 

Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis left unchecked can turn into periodontal disease. This is where the bacteria in plaque produces toxins that irritate your gums and cause them to become inflamed. Your body then becomes a “mama bear” and goes into defense mode. Unfortunately, what it ends up doing is fighting against itself, breaking down both the tissues and bones that support the teeth. The results? Bleeding, bad breath, loose teeth and even tooth loss. Not treating this condition can have negative effects for your baby because studies show that there is a  link between your oral health and pre-term birth, as well as low birth weight. Here are the risks associated with each scenario:

Pre-term Baby Health Risk

  • Vision and hearing loss
  • Digestive and feeding problems
  • Respiratory problems

Low Birth Weight Health Risks

  • Learning disabilities
  • Delayed motor skills
  • Social growth challenges 

Pregnancy Tumors

During your second trimester, you may get what’s known as a pregnancy tumor. Hold on! I know the word tumor is generally scary but according to the American Dental Association (ADA), these growths are not cancerous. It’s an overgrowth of tissues that appears on the gums, typically between teeth. It’s a red, raw lump that’s described as having the appearance of a raspberry. It bleeds easily and can make it uncomfortable to talk and eat. It normally disappears once you have your baby. The root cause is possibly an increased amount of plaque. However, speak with your dental provider if you have any concerns.

The most important way to prepare for your baby is to be healthy overall. And overall health consists not only of taking care of your body but also your mouth. After all, both are connected. That’s why conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, normally seen as only affecting the body, affect your oral health. And oral health conditions like gingivitis and periodontal disease can impact your overall health, as well as the health of your baby.  So, as you are expecting, be sure to consistently maintain great oral health and inform your dentist that you are pregnant. As you maintain a good oral hygiene routine that includes the use of mouthwash, Have you run out and not had time to go to the store? Download our guide to see how you can easily make it at home yourself with a few simple ingredients!

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