Is Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy a Sign of Periodontitis?

We have had pregnant moms crankywith swollen, bleeding and painful gums. Bleeding gums or gingivitis during pregnancy is a very common phenomenon.

At least 40% pregnant women develop gingivitis during this period. However, bleeding gums during pregnancy do not denote periodontitis. Pregnancy Gingivitis is inflammation of gum’s blood vessels in the gum tissues.

What is Periodontitis?

When gingivitis is not treated in time, it may develop into periodontitis. Key to oral health largely depends upon your oral hygiene. Periodontitis is caused by the accumulation and development of a certain bacteria, also known as dental plague, between the gums and teeth. Inflammation and swollen gums create cavities between the teeth and gum, which let the bacteria to easily spread and grow in the lower gum tissues thereby affecting the roots and bones. Periodontal disease or gum infection decays your bones leading to premature teeth fall.

This is why plagues are supposed to be removed regularly by flossing and deep scaling so that they do not inflate the gums.

But pregnancy gingivitis is completely different and women with good oral hygiene may also develop inflammation of gums.

Is Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy a Sign of Periodontitis?

Pregnancy Gingivitis: Factors that Cause Gum Bleeding During Pregnancy

Female hormone, progesterone is released excessively during pregnancy. The elevated level of thishormone may promote the gingivitis causing bacteria to grow. The hormone and decreased immunity also make the gums to be more sensitive towards plagues and amplify its reaction to toxins present in the plague.

Pregnancy Gingivitis can develop between the 2nd and 8thmonths of the gestation period. Women who already have gum problem or periodontal disease are more prone to pregnancy gingivitis as Progesterone stimulates the production of Prostaglandins, the main substance that causes inflammation of blood vessels and dilation of gum tissues.

Certain birth control pills also contain higher level of progesterone.

Pregnancy Tumours: Is it something to worry about?

Sometimes red coloured bump like over growths may appear on the swollen gums during the second and third trimesters. These are called pregnancy tumours. Although the name can make you paranoid, there’s actually nothing to worry about. They are not cancers and are always benign. Since they are swollen growths, they are referred to as tumours.

Pregnancy tumours can practically grow anywhere in the body; however they are very common in mouths, especially in gingivitis gums and between teeth. They bleed easily, can grow up to 3/4th inch and have a mulberry like surface.

Most of the pregnancy tumours appear in the 2nd trimester and dissolve by themselves with in few weeks. But if they don’t go away, they are removed surgically after the baby is born.

Signs and symptoms of gum disease during pregnancy

  1. Toothache
  2. Painful gums
  3. Bleeding while brushing teeth
  4. Swollen and tender gums
  5. Tooth sensitivity and
  6. Bleeding gum tissues

Although, doctors can’t do much about it and cannot prescribe any antibiotics during pregnancy, all you can do is follow certain home remedies to soothe the gums and relieve you from pain; they include

  • Warm salt water gargle
  • Swishing your mouth with coconut oil or black tea for 20 minutes
  • Brushing 2 – 3 times a day
  • Rinsing your mouth with antimicrobial wash (alcohol free)
  • Flossing your teeth

You should consult your dentist immediately if you have other severe symptoms including

  • Excessive swelling in all gums
  • Continuous bleeding gums
  • Severe tooth ache
  • Loosening teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums and
  • Abnormal growths that are not painful

Gum disease that does not go away after pregnancy needs to be treated by dentists. Treatment usually includesantibiotic course and extraction of affected tissues.

“Don’t skip your appointment if you are due for a professional cleaning just because you are pregnant. Scaling and cleaning are important now, more than ever.”

Will gum disease affect the baby?

Pregnancy gingivitis does not harm the baby and mother. Moms with healthy gums before pregnancy have nothing to fear about.

However, previous records of chronic gum disease or periodontitis in pregnant women have certain implications in pregnancy. The most common one is premature birth (before 37 weeks of gestation).

There are several studies that state that aggressive periodontitis or gum disease may result to premature delivery, underweight babies and even preeclampsia. These studies also show that women with aggressive periodontitis gave birth in the 32 week itself.

However, other studies suggest that there’s no association between periodontitis and pregnancy preterm birth or low birth weight.

Whatever might be the case, if you suffer from gum disease it is better to see your dentist when you are early in the pregnancy than in the later months. Let your dentist help you to have a safe and healthy pregnancy period.


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