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Pregnancy Gingivitis (Bleeding Gums): Causes And Treatment

Pregnancy Gingivitis

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Gingivitis is a gum disease characterized by the inflammation and bleeding of the gums (1). Pregnancy gingivitis can happen due hormonal changes, in addition to the regular reasons of gingivitis (2).

In this post, MomJunction tells you about the symptoms of gum disease during pregnancy, causes and treatment options.

Signs and Symptoms Of Gum Disease During Pregnancy

Changes in gums may appear after the second month of pregnancy or by the end of the first trimester (3). Some of the common signs and symptoms of gum disease during pregnancy are:

  • Inflammation of the gums or gingiva.
  • The inflamed gums may appear red (erythema), puffy, and swollen (4).
  • Bleeding from the inflamed gingival tissue (3), especially while brushing the teeth.

There are certain factors responsible for this dental condition during pregnancy.

Causes Of Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy

The following reasons may lead to bleeding of gums during pregnancy.

  • The high progesterone and estrogen levels may enhance the growth of certain bacteria responsible for causing gingivitis during pregnancy (2). The gingiva may also become more vulnerable to plaque formation, resulting in bleeding gums.
  • The bleeding and swollen gums may also result from an increased blood flow during pregnancy.
  • Calcium deficiency may contribute towards tenderness and bleeding of gums (3).
  • Increase in the intake of sugary foods may add to the risk of tender gums (3).
  • Smoking can affect your oral health as well as your overall health.

Possible Complications Of Gum Bleeding During Pregnancy

Bleeding gums might contribute to the risk of the following conditions in pregnancy:

  • Some cases may cause pyogenic granuloma, which is a benign tumor resulting from the overgrowth of tissue. The localized tumor is characterized by a deep red and inflamed lump (4).
  • Gingivitis, when left untreated, can lead to a condition called periodontitis (5). The bacteria release toxins, which cause infection and loosening of teeth.

Timely medical assistance can significantly help prevent any complications.

Can Bleeding Gums In Pregnancy Harm The Baby?

A paper by the European Federation of Periodontology states that scientists have noticed some influence of gum disease on pregnancy and the baby (6). Gum disease during pregnancy may increase the risk of preterm labor, low birth weight of the baby, and preeclampsia (rise in blood pressure).

Researchers suspect that germs and their released byproducts seem to travel from the gum through the bloodstream into the womb, thus increasing the risk of these problems. The paper says, “Traces of germs from the mother’s mouth have been found in the fluid around the baby and in blood.”

It is to be noted that gum diseases are not the only cause of the conditions. The European Federation of Periodontology observes that “A lot more research is needed to prove a ‘cause-and-effect’ link between gum disease and pregnancy problems.” It adds, “Having gum disease does not mean that your baby will be harmed but making sure that your mouth is healthy will give your baby the best chance of a good start.”

If you have any doubts about the prospective effects of gum diseases on pregnancy, then do not hesitate to ask the question to your dentist or obstetrician.

Treatment For Sore And Bleeding Gums In Pregnancy

The treatment will depend on the severity of the bleeding gums. The following are some treatment methods that your dentist may recommend:

  • Topical treatment methods like medicated mouthwash and toothpaste can help ease the condition. Use the mouthwash or toothpaste prescribed by the dentist. You can also consult your obstetrician to learn more about the safety of the medicines.
  • Deep cleaning by a dentist could help remove plaque that caused the bleeding. The dentist can use techniques like scaling and root planing. A laser may also be used to remove plaque, as this procedure leads to less bleeding (3).
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed in the case of severe infections. The dentist may prescribe an antibiotic such as amoxicillin or penicillin after considering its safety during pregnancy (7).

According to a paper published in the Journal of Dental Sciences of China, if the condition is mostly painless, then clinical observation and oral self-care may help keep the problem in check (4). Do not self-medicate and only have medicine after consulting a dentist.

How to Prevent Bleeding Gums When Pregnant?

Practicing good oral hygiene goes a long way in preventing bleeding gums and other gum diseases during pregnancy. Here is what you can do to keep your gums healthy.

  • Pregnant or not, make it a habit to brush your teeth at least twice daily, once in the morning and again before going to bed at night. Also, floss once a daily.
  • Use a good quality toothbrush with soft bristles to minimize irritation to the gums.
  • While pregnancy cravings are inevitable, limit the intake of foods that are high in sugar content, such as pastries, cookies, ice-cream, and sweets. These foods can increase the risk of dental caries (cavities) (5).
  • Research suggests that stress during pregnancy can weaken the maternal immune system, making the woman susceptible to periodontal diseases (8). Stress may not always cause gum disease, but it is still good to stay relaxed and stress-free when you are pregnant.

Along with self-care, get regular dental checkups from a dentist. Experts recommend visiting a dentist at least once during pregnancy (3). It can help in early detection of any dental problem during pregnancy.

Can You Use Natural Remedies For Gum Diseases During Pregnancy?

Some natural substances have been in use for gum disease. These methods are backed by anecdotal evidence and individual experiences and may not have substantial scientific evidence. Here are some such natural remedies. However, do not use any of them without consulting a doctor.

  • A research study noted that green tea might help subside the inflammation of gums caused by bacteria (9). Regular green tea consumption may help promote good dental health. However, it notes that the method “should be carried out with caution to avoid side-effects.” Therefore, ask your doctor if you can use green tea during pregnancy.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends saltwater rinsing of the mouth to subdue irritation of the gums (5). Add one teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water and use it as a mouthwash to rinse the mouth once or twice daily.
  • People also use water mixed with tea tree oil to rinse their mouth. This mouthwash may help control the bacterial growth and reduce inflammation of the gums (10). However, consult a doctor before using tea tree oil.

Follow a healthy diet plan as vitamin deficiency may also have its impact on your oral health (11).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does pregnancy gingivitis go away?

In many cases, the condition improves upon the restoration of the hormonal balance following delivery (2). However, it is advised to have a word with your dentist to understand the severity of the condition and get the necessary treatment.

2. How early do your gums bleed in pregnancy?

The bleeding of gums can begin from the second month of pregnancy or by the end of the first trimester. Pregnancy gingivitis might peak during the third trimester (5), but is quite likely to subside after delivery.

Dental problems, including bleeding gums, may affect you at any point in time during pregnancy. Do not get stressed out but consult your dentist for the necessary course of action.

Have something to share about bleeding gums during pregnancy? Do let us know in the comment section below.

References:

1. Dr. Elena Figuero and Prof Mariano Sanz, Women’s oral health during pregnancy; European Federation of Periodontology; ETEP (Aetiology and Therapy of Periodontal Diseases) Research Group, University Complutense, Madrid, Spain
2. Min Wu, et al., Relationship between Gingival Inflammation and Pregnancy; Mediators Of Inflammation; 22 March 2015.
3. Zainab Mahmood Aljammali, et al., Review in causes and treatment of diseases and bleeding of gums; Journal of Bio-Technology and Research (JBTR); June 2015.
4. Wei-Lian Sun, et al., Multiple gingival pregnancy tumors with rapid growth; Journal Of Dental Sciences; Volume 9 Issue 3 September 2014, pages 289-293
5. Oral Health Care During Pregnancy and Through the Lifespan; The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG); August 2013.
6. European Federation Of Periodontology (EFP); Gum disease, pregnancy and your baby; May 2013.
7. Sophia Kurien et al., Management of Pregnant Patient in Dentistry; Journal Of International Oral Health, International Society Of Preventive and Community Dentistry; 2013
8. Sachin Goyal, et al., Stress and periodontal disease: The link and logic; Industrial Psychiatry Journal; 2013 Jan-Jun
9. Anirban Chatterjee, et al., Green tea: A boon for periodontal and general health; Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology; 2012 April-Jun.
10. Enas Ahmed Elgendy et al., Effect of local application of tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil gel on long pentraxin level used as an adjunctive treatment of chronic periodontitis: A randomized controlled clinical study; Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology; 2013 Jul-Aug.
11. Shariq Najeeb, et al., The Role of Nutrition in Periodontal Health: An Update; Nutrients; MDPI, 2016 August 30.

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