A Dentist Explains Exactly Why Your Gums Might Hurt During Pregnancy

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You’ve probably been warned of pregnancy symptoms like feet swelling, cravings, and morning sickness, but has anyone mentioned gum pain?

According to Dr. Sophya Morghem, DMD, a general dentist at Sunset Dentistry in San Francisco, about half of all pregnant people experience pregnancy gingivitis, the painful swelling of gums that often bleed while brushing and flossing. Due to hormonal changes, your gums can become more sensitive to plaque and conducive to the growth of gingivitis-causing bacteria.

While pregnancy gingivitis can occur anytime prepartum, it’s often most severe during the second trimester, she said. “It is highly recommended that patients come for cleanings at a three-month interval during pregnancy to help reduce this plaque buildup.”

Related: I’m Very Grateful For My Pregnancy, but I’m Finding the Experience Very Uncomfortable

Aside from seeing a professional more frequently, Dr. Morghem highly recommends improving your home oral care during your pregnancy by flossing nightly, brushing after meals, and rinsing with salt water to help ease inflammation. “For mild cases, this gingivitis can go away after pregnancy. However, for some, this gingivitis can worsen. Starting out with inflammation of the gums, this can cause periodontitis, which is a more severe stage marked by bone loss.”

Pregnancy gingivitis could increase the risk of preterm birth or low birth weight, among other health conditions, Dr. Morghem said, which is why it’s so important to seek medical guidance as soon as you start to show symptoms.

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