Sore And Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy
Have you suddenly worried that your oral hygiene wasn’t as good as you thought it was? Why am I having sore, swollen, bleeding gums now on top of being pregnant?
Don’t worry- it’s a normal pregnancy symptom that a lot of women experience. Let’s go over all the reasons behind the achy mouth and gums and what exactly to do about it.
In this article:
- When Do Sore And Bleeding Gums Normally Start During Pregnancy?
- What Causes Sore And Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy?
- How Can I Stop My Gums From Bleeding During Pregnancy?
- How Can You Prevent Your Gums From Bleeding During Pregnancy?
- When Do Bleeding Gums Typically Stop In Pregnancy?
- When To See A Doctor Or Dentist About Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy?
When Do Sore And Bleeding Gums Normally Start During Pregnancy?
You’ve got a lot to be dealing with during the first trimester, like finding out you’re pregnant, probably tons of morning sickness, other good stuff.
Most women won’t notice that their gums have become sore and swollen until later on in pregnancy, usually during the second trimester. This is because that’s when there’s increased blood flow pumping around the body, which leads to more swelling and inflammation. Also, you’ve had time to vomit enough during the first few weeks of being pregnant to irritate your mouth and gums.
Wait, come again? Why do I have sore or bleeding gums in the first place?
What Causes Sore And Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy?
There’s a couple of different possible reasons. The main factor is those good old pregnancy hormones surging through your body and getting the blood pumping. They are there to help the blood pump to your baby, but the blood is also pumping everywhere else. This means pain, swelling, throbbing, you name it. If your hands and feet can blow up like a balloon, your gums can too. This will cause a lot of soreness and possibly bleeding.
And don’t forget there are a lot of changes going on related to your mouth too. Are you eating any differently than before? Have you thrown up at all? Does brushing your teeth make you gag and maybe even puke? If you’re anything like me when I was pregnant, the answer to all of those questions is yes. All of these can be contributing factors to developing swollen, sore, or bleeding gums. Food intake changes will affect plaque build up in the mouth and even cavity development. Frequent vomiting can cause stomach acid to irritate the mouth and gums. Finally, if you aren’t brushing, flossing, or using mouthwash as frequently because they make you sick to your stomach, then that can affect your oral hygiene as well.
Wonderful. How can I take care of my teeth and gums then?
How Can I Stop My Gums From Bleeding During Pregnancy?
Thankfully, there’s a number of things you can do to help your mouth feel a little better and stop bleeding.
- Brush your teeth, floss, use mouthwash
Yes, oral hygiene is important. You should be brushing your teeth twice a day and using mouthwash and flossing regularly. I know brushing your teeth might make you gag, but it’s very important! Let’s say you know for sure that you’re going to vomit in the morning. Do your best not to gag yourself with your toothbrush, but if you do, then brush your teeth right after vomiting and use mouthwash. This will make sure you don’t have stomach juices swishing around your mouth and irritating your gums. Gross, right? On a related note…
- Keep yourself from throwing up
Sometimes it gets hard when you’re pregnant, but do your best to keep yourself from throwing up. For most women, this isn’t so much of a problem after the first trimester. However, if you’re someone who struggles with gagging and barfing, you need to try to reduce that as much as you can. Vomiting can erode your teeth and gums and cause bacteria to sit in your mouth. Keep yourself from throwing up in the first place by snacking on healthy foods like nuts or fruit or chewing on sugar free gum. Nuts actually have antioxidants that should help with any gum soreness and bleeding too!
- Don’t eat a lot of irritating foods
Irritating foods? I mean, be mindful of eating stuff that’s too hot or cold or spicy. At least until the soreness and bleeding goes down, you want to be sure you aren’t making your gums and teeth sensitive by your food choices. And speaking of food choices…
- Cut down on the sugar
Okay, this was my particular weak point. Sugar was my go-to pregnancy craving and my coping mechanism for pregnancy-induced stress. But seriously, try an organic fruit smoothie or a warm bath instead. A high-sugar intake can absolutely irritate your mouth and gums, so don’t go overboard with the ice cream and chocolate bars. If you’re craving something sweet, then fruit is a good choice. Fruit has natural sugars, so it isn’t overloaded with too much of a good thing like processed foods are. Plus, fruit is high in Vitamin C, which can help prevent your gums from swelling.
- Rinsing with salt water
Another good way to fight swollen and bleeding gums is to swish and rinse with a salt water solution. Usually it’s about a teaspoon of sea salt per cup of warm water. Gargling with that should help you get your mouth cleaned out of any bacteria and keep your gums from bleeding.
Now that you’ve got it to stop, how do you prevent it from coming back?
How Can You Prevent Your Gums From Bleeding During Pregnancy?
We talked about cutting down on the sugar already, but going forward we know it’s best during pregnancy to be eating well for your baby, even if you tend to stress eat junk food like me. This will also help your oral hygiene going forward. Remember, Vitamin C is great for helping sore and bleeding gums. Vitamin A is also a good choice because it helps strengthen bones (like teeth). Do your best to eat more foods that are high in these vitamins and make sure your daily prenatal vitamin includes these particular ones as well. Ask your doctor if you need to supplement your pregnancy diet with another vitamin.
Speaking of asking your doctor… you know you can ask your doctor about your swollen and bleeding gums, right? Ask about it during your next prenatal appointment to see if your doctor has any recommendations. Better yet, be sure to have a dental visit sometime in your pregnancy to make sure everything is looking okay in your mouth. A lot of prenatal health insurance plans will cover dental visits, so no excuses! The dentist can recommend a sensitive mouthwash or toothpaste too if you need it.
When Do Bleeding Gums Typically Stop In Pregnancy?
When will it ever end? Sorry to tell you sis, but we can’t be sure any of the pain and swelling will end until the baby is out. This seems to be the solution to a lot of pregnancy symptoms, right? I know it doesn’t help to hear that you stop feeling pregnant when you actually stop being pregnant, but…at least you know, right? Try to focus on the positive and look forward to meeting that amazing human being you’re growing inside you.
When To See A Doctor Or Dentist About Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy?
So, it’s a good idea to get a regular checkup from the dentist when you’re pregnant anyway. Plus, if you’re going through a lot of pain and soreness then you should probably mention it to the OBGYN at your next prenatal visit. On top of that, however? When do you know that it’s so bad you need to be seen for it?
Well this whole time we haven’t used the official term because it sounds a little scary- gingivitis. That’s what swollen, sore, and bleeding gums are. I just didn’t want to call it pregnancy gingivitis in case that just makes you feel that much more diseased and sickly.
Pregnancy gingivitis is totally normal and usually you can treat and prevent it by doing all the things we’ve talked about so far. If left untreated however, it could potentially get worse and develop into periodontitis, where gaps form between your teeth and gums and you can be prone to bacterial mouth infections.
If the pain and bleeding isn’t helped from these remedies, you have pain when you’re eating or chewing, or you notice any loose teeth, go see the dentist. That is not normal. You will also need to make sure your OBGYN knows and approves because dental treatments are normally recommended only during the second trimester.
The dentist can make sure your teeth are cleaned, nothing wonky is going on with your gums and teeth placement, and they can prescribe antibiotics, toothpaste, or mouthwash to help you get rid of the pain and soreness. Your doctor might also be able to prescribe antibiotics that will help too, in case you end up seeing them before your dental visit.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pregnancy and Oral Health February 2019.
Mayo Clinic, Second Trimester of Pregnancy: What to Expect, June 2017.
National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Dental caries and periodontal disease among U.S. pregnant women and nonpregnant women of reproductive age, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2004, May 2016.
National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Relationship between Gingival Inflammation and Pregnancy, March 2015.
- Heathryn Salvia