Due to increased hormone levels during pregnancy, roughly 40% of women suffer from pregnancy gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease). The symptoms of gingivitis can be uncomfortable and painful, and if untreated, have serious consequences for your long-term oral health.
Gingivitis occurs when there is plaque built up in your mouth. The bacteria in plaque will irritate your gums, and can eventually lead to gum disease if left untreated. During pregnancy, you will have increased progesterone. This makes gums far more sensitive and susceptible to bacteria.
Symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis include:
- Painful or sensitive gums
- Red and/or swollen gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
Usually, these symptoms appear between the second and eighth month of your pregnancy. Fortunately, gingivitis is relatively easy to prevent and treat, and shouldn’t be anything to worry about. You can prevent pregnancy gingivitis by following many of the same steps you’d normally take to maintain healthy teeth and gums!
- Visit the Dentist If you are scheduled for a regular dental cleaning, it’s important to still go, even though you are pregnant. Nothing that happens during the cleaning will be harmful to you or the baby, and it’s important to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy in order to prevent gingivitis. If you are concerned about pregnancy gingivitis or gum disease, it can never hurt to make an extra dental appointment.
- Brush and Floss Pregnant or not, it’s always essential to brush and floss religiously! Brush at least twice daily, and floss daily, in order to keep your gums healthy. If you’re having any sensitivity, you can buy special toothpaste. Additionally, make sure you use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Use Mouthwash You can use an antimicrobial mouthwash to kill bacteria and prevent gingivitis. Ask your dentist which mouthwash they would recommend, and use it regularly. Regular mouthwash is generally effective, but you can also buy medicated mouthwash made specifically to fight gum disease.
Prevention is very important when it comes to pregnancy gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into gum disease, which can have serious effects not only on your oral health, but on the overall health of you and your child. Studies have found that gum disease can lead to premature birth, and underweight babies.
Since pregnancy gingivitis is related to hormonal changes, you may develop it even if you take all the above precautions. If you notice any swelling, sensitivity, or irritation in your gums, make sure to continue your oral hygiene routine, and make an appointment with your dentist.