Pregnancy Gums – Yes, They are a Real Thing!
Congratulations, you’re expecting!
It’s pretty obvious by now that what you’re expecting is a baby, but–with apologies to the prospective mother’s manual–do you know everything to expect when you’re expecting? If this isn’t your first obstetrical rodeo, drop the “been there, done that” attitude–stuff can happen the second (or third) time around that will throw you for a loop, too, so don’t be so smug sitting there sipping your kale smoothie.
What are the changes your body springs upon you? Let us count the ways. There’s the weight gain, and the swelling, the nausea, the exhaustion, the eternal poking and prodding and personal indignities, oh–and then there’s pregnancy gingivitis.
Yes, Your Gums Swell During Pregnancy, Too
As if it’s not enough that you gag every time you brush your teeth, you might notice a tinge of pink in the sink. Most people wouldn’t panic at this, but you’re pregnant, so everything is a possible sign of something going horribly wrong. Relax–it’s likely just a case of pregnancy gum disease–gingivitis.
Thank the hormones that are running rampant through your body–while they’re smart enough to grow a baby, they struggle with focus. All that increased blood flow causes your gums to swell and bleed, and of course they’re more sensitive. Those raging hormones also hinder your body’s normal ability to fight off bacteria, so it’s possible for the plaque to build up and result in a touch of a periodontal infection. When you’re gestating, adding insult to injury is sort of a hobby for your body.
Home Remedies For Tender Gums
You’ve noticed how much more sensitive you are to some tastes and textures, but many women are surprised at how their gag reflex goes into overdrive when they brush their teeth. And there’s nothing worse than coming off of a bout of morning sickness and having it start all over again, just because you’re trying to make your mouth feel minty fresh and not completely gross. It turns out mint contributes to nausea, but you do have choices about brushing.
- Limit your toothpaste to the bare minimum to get the job done
- Use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth that’s not so heavy on the mint
- Brush your teeth with baking soda
- Use a soft toothbrush–even a medium bristle is too rough on pregnant gums
- Swish a therapeutic mouthwash around your mouth (ask your dentist)
- Boost your vitamin C and A–they makes your teeth and gums stronger, but check with your doctor before you increase any vitamins.
- Rinse or gargle (if you can stand it) with warm sea salt water–it will reduce gum inflammation.
Other Fun Symptoms of Pregnancy Gums
Your gums are susceptible to other charming symptoms while you’re pregnant, not just swelling, gingivitis, and periodontitis. There’s also the chance of a canker sore on your gum, called a “pyogenic granuloma”. These little red bumps pop up all over your body (again, there’s no such thing as too much insult to your body these days), but are most prevalent on your gums.
See Your Dentist
See a dentist at Boulder Dental for a deep cleaning when you learn you are pregnant, that will help combat gum disease. Tell the hygienist that you are pregnant, you don’t want X-rays or anesthesia–you’ll need to postpone any dental treatments until after the baby is born. If you’ve missed that boat and have a bacterial infection in your gums already, your doctor may recommend waiting until the second trimester before starting any oral antibiotics.
Gingivitis that doesn’t get better can turn into periodontitis, which can be serious for pregnant women. Left untreated, it can cause low birth weight or a premature birth for the baby, and preeclampsia for you. Researchers have been connecting oral to overall health for some time now; pregnancy exacerbates everything so get checked as soon as something seems amiss.
This, Too, Shall Pass
As annoying as all these oral discomforts are, it’s all worth it because of the beautiful baby at the end……whatever. Actually, your gums are one of the first things in your body that bounce back (get back down to normal size) after the birth. That’s a good thing, considering how many things will never bounce again, or get back to a “normal” size.
At Boulder Dental, we’re here to care for your teeth and gums throughout your pregnancy and be your family dentist. Schedule an appointment with us today to discuss dental care during your pregnancy.