Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. It usually occurs due to the buildup of plaque bacteria on teeth surfaces, which produce toxins that irritate the gums. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60 to 75% of women develop gingivitis sometime during their pregnancy. The pregnant woman’s gums become red, swollen, and bleed easily during brushing or flossing. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can make it easier for plaque bacteria to grow. This condition is known as pregnancy gingivitis, which usually develops between months 2 and 8.
If you noticed any changes in your teeth or gums, visit your dentist as soon as possible because gingivitis can cause complications. Untreated gingivitis can cause complications such as periodontitis, dental abscess, tooth mobility, tooth loss, and even complications for your pregnancy.
How Do You Know You Have Pregnancy Gingivitis?
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of gingivitis during pregnancy can help treat it early, and prevent complications. Pregnancy gingivitis usually develops between months 2 and 8. The signs and symptoms include:
- Red, swollen gums.
- Gum bleeding when brushing or flossing.
- Bad breath.
- Gums tender to touch.
- Mild gum recession.
If gingivitis is not treated, the infection may spread to the tooth-supporting tissues such as bone and periodontal ligaments (PDL). This condition is known as periodontitis, which is a serious form of gum disease. The signs and symptoms of periodontitis include:
- Moderate to severe gum recession.
- Periodontal pockets.
- A gum abscess (periodontal or periapical abscess).
- Loose teeth and tooth loss.
You have to visit your dentist to treat pregnancy gingivitis and prevent periodontitis. Your dentist may recommend you to schedule appointments in the second and third trimesters for professional teeth cleaning.
Why Does Pregnancy Gingivitis Occur?
Gingivitis during pregnancy usually occurs due to plaque build-up and the increase of the progesterone hormone level. Progesterone is a hormone released by the ovaries. It plays an important role in the menstrual cycle and maintaining the early stages of pregnancy. The progesterone hormone can:
- Contribute to an increase in the blood flow in the gum tissues, making them more sensitive, swollen, and bleed easily during brushing and flossing.
- Make it easier for plaque bacteria to grow.
Other Causes & Risk Factors
Hormonal changes during pregnancy and other factors can increase the risk of gingivitis. The risk factors include:
- Poor oral hygiene: if you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, plaque bacteria will accumulate on your teeth and gums, causing pregnancy gingivitis.
- Morning sickness: it is a common symptom of pregnancy that usually occurs within the first four months. Morning sickness is characterized by nausea and occasional vomiting. Stomach acids can erode the tooth enamel and irritate the gums.
- Dry mouth condition: this condition may occur for several reasons such as dehydration, mouth breathing, and side effects of some medications. Visit your doctor to determine the underlying cause and treat it.
- Broken tooth fillings: they can contribute to the accumulation of plaque and food particles more easily, causing gingivitis.
- Some medications: gingivitis may occur as a side effect of some medications such as high blood pressure medications.
Can Home Remedies Treat Gingivitis during Pregnancy?
Home remedies can help clear the signs and symptoms of gingivitis during pregnancy. However, this won’t eliminate the need to visit a dentist. Home remedies can soothe inflamed gums, relieve pain, reduce bacteria, remove food particles, and relieve bad breath. But they can’t remove tartar from above and below the gum line, and can’t treat the underlying cause of gingivitis such as broken tooth fillings. You need to seek medical advice before the use of gingivitis home remedies if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Read more about: “Gingivitis Home Remedies: Pros & Cons“
Home Remedies for Pregnancy Gingivitis
These home remedies are effective and generally safe to use.
- Salt-water rinse: salt is a natural disinfectant. Sal-water rinse can reduce gum inflammation and relieve pain. To make a salt-water rinse, add half a teaspoon of salt to a warm glass of water and mix well. Then, rinse your mouth with the solution for 30 seconds and spit out. You can repeat 2-3 times per day.
- Practice good oral hygiene: brush your teeth regularly to remove plaque before it hardens into tartar. Also, use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque from between teeth.
- Use antibacterial toothpaste: antibacterial toothpaste and mouthwash can help fight bacteria.
How Pregnancy Gingivitis is Treated at the Dental Office?
If you noticed any changes in your teeth or gum, visit your dentist immediately. Your dentist can identify the underlying cause. Gingivitis is usually treated by professional teeth cleaning, in which your dentist will use an ultrasonic scaler to remove plaque and tartar. Professional teeth cleaning doesn’t usually require anesthesia. Also, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help fight infection. Don’t take any medications without consulting your dentist or doctor.
Sometimes, gingivitis during pregnancy may occur due to broken tooth fillings and poorly fitted crowns or bridges. In this case, the treatment includes replacing the broken fillings or poorly fitted prostheses.
Why Is It Important to Treat Pregnancy Gingivitis?
Untreated gingivitis can progress into a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis leads to the destruction of the tooth-supporting tissues such as bone and periodontal ligaments. Complications of untreated gingivitis during pregnancy include:
- Moderate to severe gum recession.
- Discomfort and pain.
- Persistent bad breath.
- Periodontal pockets accumulate food particles, making it easier for bacteria to grow.
- Dental abscess (periodontal and periapical abscess).
- Teeth spacing and misaligned teeth.
- Tooth mobility and tooth loss.
- Increased risk of premature birth.
Several studies have shown that there is a link between gum disease and premature birth. So, if you noticed the signs and symptoms of gingivitis during pregnancy, visit your dentist immediately for treatment, and to prevent any complications.
Gum Disease and Premature Birth
Several studies have shown that there is a link between gum disease and premature birth. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, pregnant women with periodontal disease are more likely to deliver prematurely, and babies with low birth weight than pregnant women with healthy gums.
A pregnancy tumor is a benign (not cancerous) overgrowth that mostly affects the gingiva of pregnant women. It is caused by plaque build-up and hormonal changes during pregnancy. The pregnancy tumor usually occurs during the second trimester and disappears on its own after the baby’s birth. However, it makes eating and speaking difficult, and causes discomfort. Your dentist may recommend removing it.
How to Prevent Gingivitis from Returning?
Pregnancy gingivitis usually occurs due to hormonal changes That make it easier for plaque bacteria to grow. You can prevent gingivitis during pregnancy by:
- Maintaining good oral hygiene: brush and floss your teeth regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove plaque and food debris. Also, clean your tongue.
- Use Antibacterial toothpaste and mouthwash: they can help fight infection.
- Eat a healthy diet: eat foods that contain calcium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, C, and D.
- Limit sugary foods and drinks: foods high in carbohydrates provide a suitable environment for bacteria to grow.
- Visit your dentist regularly: Visit your dentist regularly for professional teeth cleaning to remove plaque and tartar. Don’t skip regular check-ups, especially in the second and third trimester of pregnancy.
Gingivitis during pregnancy usually occurs due to plaque build-up and the increase of the progesterone hormone level. The increase of progesterone hormone can make it easier for plaque bacteria to grow.
Pregnancy gingivitis usually develops between the second and eighth month of pregnancy. The signs include red, swollen gums, which bleed easily with brushing or flossing.
Untreated gingivitis can lead to the spread of infection to the tooth-supporting tissues. This condition is known as periodontitis, which is a serious form of gum disease. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, pregnant women with periodontal disease are more likely to deliver prematurely, and babies with low birth weight than pregnant women with healthy gums.
Yes, home remedies can clear the signs and symptoms of gingivitis. But you still need to visit your dentist to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline and treat the underlying cause. Home Remedies include salt-water rinse and brushing regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush and antibacterial toothpaste.