Many women notice tender, swollen, red, sensitive gums which are very prone to bleeding during pregnancy, especially while brushing and flossing. This is generally seen around the 15th week of pregnancy. In some cases, there may also develop a benign nodule on the gums that bleeds while brushing.
This rare occurrence is called a pregnancy tumour or pyogenic granuloma – and is usually harmless and painless.
The pregnancy hormones leave the mother’s mouth vulnerable to bacteria and plaque, both of which make for tender gums during pregnancy – and can cause gingivitis and tooth decay in some women if not treated properly.
Some ways in which the problem of bleeding gums can be lessened, if not mitigated, are:
- Although gums would bleed while brushing, but brushing regularly will actually help. Also never forget to brush between teeth.
- Use a soft brush, and choose a toothpaste for sensitive teeth if gums are tender. Do not rinse immediately after brushing, as this will reduce the desensitising effect of the toothpaste.
- To remove plaque build-up (thin film of saliva, bacteria and food that coats the teeth) see the dentist regularly to get rid of calcium deposits.
- In case of diabetes, keep blood sugar levels under control. Gingivitis and gum disease are more common in people with diabetes.
- Clean between teeth at least three times a week to remove plaque and trapped food, and to reduce bleeding.
- Kick smoking habits away at the earliest. They do not only jeopardise oral health but also pose threats to pregnancy.
Bleeding gums if left untreated can lead to periodontitis, a situation characterised by weak tissues and bones that keep the teeth anchored in the jaw. With time, gums will become infected and develop pus-filled sacs (abscesses), and come away from the teeth.
The ligaments and bone at the base of the teeth will then become damaged. And finally, pockets between the gums and the teeth will get bigger until the teeth start to loosen and eventually fall out.
Also, many researches show link between severe gum disease and preterm birth and low birth weight of the baby. Some even suggest an association with preeclampsia.
One should hence not delay care for oral health. Apart from how important teeth are to the human body, how well one’s teeth looks also has a huge psychological impact on the person.
If one sees that gums are bleeding and feeling tender, she should see a dentist straight away. A dental hygienist should be able to scale and polish teeth and treat tender gums. Simple problems of plaque deposits can be solved in one or two sittings.
But remember to tell the dentist about the ongoing pregnancy. Avoid undergoing an X-ray unless one is urgently needed.
Make sure that if any medication is administered then the medicines and their dosage is marked pregnancy-safe.
However, a local anaesthetic for dental work at any time during pregnancy is considered to be safe.