If you’re pregnant or hoping to conceive, you know a developing baby means your body changes. An expanding abdomen, morning sickness, and swelling in feet, hands, and ankles are typical. But did you know bleeding gums during pregnancy is also common?
Many women experience bleeding gums during pregnancy. Although complications are rare, it’s important to know how to care for your gums and teeth during pregnancy. Good dental hygiene is essential, and you should be aware of special considerations.
Why Do Your Gums Bleed During Pregnancy?
Bleeding gums during pregnancy, called pregnancy gingivitis, is an inflammation of the gums which can cause bleeding. A build-up of plaque — a sticky coating of bacteria on the teeth — that gets down into the gum area is the main reason for gingivitis. Hardened plaque, called calculus or tartar, can also irritate the gums and cause bleeding. Pregnancy increases the risk of gingivitis.
Your body increases the production of hormones like progesterone and oestrogen during pregnancy. These hormones lead to increased blood flow in mucus membranes, including your gums. That can mean swelling and inflammation, making gums less resistant to infection and more prone to bleeding.
Changes To Your Mouth and Eating Habits
In addition to high hormone levels, dry mouth caused by dehydration, gestational diabetes, and mouth breathing can also increase the likelihood of gingivitis and bleeding gums. Eating habits can also affect gum health. Foods with added sugar, in particular, add to plaque build-up, gum disease, and tooth decay.
Delayed Reaction To Morning Sickness
Most pregnant women will experience morning sickness, gastric reflux (heartburn), and vomiting. Stomach contents are highly acidic, and it contributes to gum disease and dental decay during pregnancy. It’s important to rinse your mouth with plain water as soon as possible after vomiting, but don’t brush right away. Wait 30 minutes for saliva to normalize pH balance. Then, gently brush your teeth thoroughly.
You’re probably eating more than usual if you’re pregnant. Sweet treats and soft drinks aren’t the best choices, but sometimes the only thing that satisfies a craving is sugar. Try substituting something sweet but healthier, such as fresh fruit. But try to avoid dried fruit which is high in sugar.
When Do Bleeding Gums Occur in Pregnancy?
Since pregnancy hormones hit a peak during your third trimester, that’s when you’re most likely to experience bleeding gums. But gum tenderness and inflammation can also occur during the second trimester, and sometimes bleeding gums is the first sign of pregnancy.
What Can You Do About Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy?
Did you know that one in five Australians has gingivitis? It’s almost always caused by poor dental hygiene. Since pregnancy increases the risk of gum inflammation and bleeding, good dental hygiene is essential.
Although blood on your toothbrush isn’t a cause for alarm, you should be alert. Taking a few steps toward better dental hygiene can prevent gum conditions from getting worse.
Good Oral Hygiene
To prevent bleeding gums during pregnancy, brush your teeth gently but thoroughly with a soft toothbrush at least twice each day. Better yet, brush after each meal and snack, especially if it’s something sugary. And be sure to brush and floss before bedtime. After brushing, use an antimicrobial rinse that’s alcohol-free with fluoride.
Floss at least once a day and make a proper project of it — be thorough. Don’t have time? Hate flossing? Try changing things up with a water or air flosser. Or, before settling in for TV or reading before bedtime and after a snack, brush your teeth. Grab a few tissues and some floss, start the movie and get to work. Try floss picks instead of traditional floss thread, and keep them handy wherever you relax.
Increase Your Calcium and Vitamin D During Pregnancy
To prevent bleeding gums during pregnancy, adequate calcium and vitamin D are essential. Developing babies take nutrients from their mothers. If dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D is insufficient, your baby will get it from your bones, and that includes teeth.
Your body needs vitamin D to process calcium. In addition, your immune system requires it to defend your gums against bacteria. That’s why it’s vital to get the right amount of both during pregnancy.
Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet
Be sure to eat a variety of foods from the five main food groups.
- vegetables and legumes (beans)
- grains and cereals
- lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes (beans), tofu, nuts, seeds
- milk, cheese, yoghurt or alternatives
Pregnant and lactating women need additional servings from specific food groups such as grains and cereals. Milk, cheese, yoghurt or alternatives are also important, and alternatives should be fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Limit Sugary Foods
Sugary foods increase the risk of bleeding gums during pregnancy because sugar sticks to teeth and promotes plaque formation. Plaque and its bacteria contribute to gum inflammation which can result in bleeding. It’s best to avoid sugary foods, including soft drinks.
Don’t Skip Your Dental Checkup Appointment
There’s no need to skip regular dental checkups, dental cleanings, and other dental care during pregnancy. It’s a good idea to visit your dentist before you get pregnant to make sure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible.
Healthy Gums, Healthy Mother
Bringing a baby into the world means your body will change in ways you might not expect. Bleeding gums during pregnancy is one of them, and it’s actually quite common. Gums may become tender and bleed during your third trimester and even earlier. But it’s never too late to upgrade your dental hygiene habits, improve your nutrition, and get enough calcium and vitamin D.
See your dentist for a thorough checkup whether you’re planning to get pregnant or you’re already expecting. And no need to worry. Most dental procedures, including cleaning, are completely safe during a typical pregnancy. Book an appointment online or call Dental on York today!