Pregnancy changes everything. Of course, if you’re pregnant, you probably already realize that. Along with the requisite wardrobe changes, the changes in how you walk (due to the changing weight distribution), and the changes to your sleep and wake cycles, you may have noticed another big, less anticipated change, and one that arrived way before the major pregnancy-related changes in your appearance. Pregnancy hormones can cause significant changes to your oral health, particularly your gum health. From the first trimester forward, you may have noticed that your gums are more sensitive and swollen. But, if your gums started bleeding, you, appropriately, are interested in solutions rather than just accepting the change. The great news is you don’t have to accept the discomfort; there are steps you can take to avoid or treat bleeding gums during pregnancy.
Solution #1: Avoiding the Problem
It’s true that gum issues in pregnancy are all too common. Although estimates vary, according to baby center, about half of pregnant women will experience gum issues. Bleeding gums in pregnancy is called pregnancy gingivitis. But, pregnancy gingivitis, although aggravated and accelerated by hormone increases, is still caused by the same thing that causes all gingivitis—bacteria accumulation in plaque that remains on the teeth and irritates the gums. The best way to prevent pregnancy gingivitis is the same way to avoid gingivitis. Keeping your teeth clean and plaque-free with excellent oral hygiene and regular dental visits can prevent gingivitis from developing at all, pregnant or not.
Solution #2: Fighting the Bacterial Imbalance
You can’t control your hormone levels while pregnancy; your body will take care of that on its own. You can control for the bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria associated with gingival (gum) disease is even associated with an increased risk of preterm labor in cases of severe gum disease. In addition to regular brushing and flossing, it may be helpful to focus on keeping your oral pH optimal. Healthy oral pH is necessary to keep healthy bacteria in the mouth and prevent dangerous bacteria from taking over the oral environment and causing diseases. Being careful to eat at scheduled times and giving your saliva sufficient time to correct oral pH between meals and snacks can help keep your teeth and gums healthy. If frequent snacks are a necessary part of your pregnancy, consider using a pH elevating oral rinse after snacks to help fight any possible damage and keep the oral bacteria in balance.
Solution #3: Hydrate, and Preserve Saliva Quality
Pregnancy is reported to cause an increase in dry mouth, although studies have not established a conclusive link between pregnancy and decreased salivary flow. However, the link between dry mouth and dental issues is well established. Also, studies have indicated that the saliva of pregnant women significantly changes, losing some of its pH buffering capacity. If you are suffering from dry mouth while pregnant, don’t delay taking care of it! Preserving your oral health is yet another reason to follow your pregnancy care team’s recommendation for drinking water and staying well hydrated. Chewing xylitol gum or using a mouth spray to maintain oral hydration may be helpful as well, particularly if you are dealing with morning sickness and its additional dangers to good oral health.
Solution #4: Go Gently!
Because gums may be more sensitive in pregnancy, you may need to be more careful about your brushing and flossing routine. Consider switching to a softer toothbrush to avoid scraping and injuring your gums. Injuries to your gums provide entry points for bacteria and cause more problems in already inflamed gum tissue. Even if you are used to the way that a firmer bristled toothbrush cleans your teeth, evidence suggests that a soft-bristled toothbrush is effective for cleaning teeth. Extra care while flossing may be needed as well.
Solution #5: Ask for Help!
At the end of the day, oral conditions exacerbated by pregnancy do not need to cause misery. Your dental care team wants to help you have a healthy, happy pregnancy and emerge with a happy, healthy mouth. Gone are the days when the old wives’ tale about losing a tooth during each pregnancy was believed or accepted. Dental cleaning is safe and recommended during pregnancy, so there’s no need to suffer. Keep up your regular scheduled dental routine or build a new, healthier dental routine and keep your gums in top shape for life.