Bleeding gums in pregnancy

Bloody gums! No, no, we're not swearing - bleeding gums are yet another glamorous part of being pregnant. Who knew?!? Well, we did, actually - and we know what to do about it, too...

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Are bleeding gums during pregnancy normal?

Bleeding gums are unpleasant and can leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it’s unlikely to be a sign of something serious, and you’re not about to bleed to death. So try to chill.

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Bleeding gums are common in pregnancy and are brought on by changes in hormone levels that cause your gums to soften, swell and become inflamed. Brushing or flossing your teeth can cause them to bleed causing gingivitis, or bleeding gums.

But while the bleeding itself is not a problem, you shouldn’t ignore it and there are steps you should take to look after your gums.

Do I need to brush my teeth more?

“Yes”, says Janet Clarke from the British Dental Association. “Many people think they should stop brushing if they have bleeding gums but this isn’t the case. Brush more and make an appointment to see your dentist about it,” she says.

So the advice is:

  • Keep brushing
  • Brush nice and gently
  • See your dentist

“My dentist told me to introduce an extra brush into the day, say at lunchtime – and I have found that they are bleeding a lot less now,” says MFM member Clare1182.

But I’ve got morning sickness and brushing my teeth is making me feel sick!

The only time you shouldn’t brush your teeth is if your morning sickness is causing you to be sick. While it’s tempting to grab a toothbrush and freshen up afterwards, the acid from your tummy can damage your tooth enamel and brushing will make it worse. Either wait a while or, if you’re desperate, use a finger with some toothpaste to gently clean your teeth temporarily.

What happens if I don’t look after my teeth?

Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, an infection that can weaken the tissue and bone that keep your teeth set in your jaw. In extreme cases the ligaments at the base of your teeth can become weakened and this can cause your teeth to fall out.

More on sore teeth in pregnancy and how to look after them

Yowcha! How do I take care of my gums properly, then?

First of all, make sure that when you do brush, you’re using a fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay. “Mouthwash can be a good extra to brushing to help your mouth feel and taste nice, as well as helping to destroy bacteria,” says Janet.

“I had bleeding gums throughout my pregnancy,” Clare 1182 says. “I went to the dentist to check it wasn’t gum disease or anything and he gave them a good clean too. I thought I may as well go while it’s free! He gave me a prescription for Corsodyl mouthwash. It tastes horrible but works wonders with my gums.”

And keep an eye on those pregnancy cravings. If you’re eating and drinking more sugary foods like fizzy drinks, ice cream and sweets, you are more likely to get tooth decay and gum disease. So try to follow a sensible diet with sugar and sweet treats in moderation – easier said than done, we know!

“I had bad cravings for chocolate in my 1st trimester and suffered toothache and light bleeding gums,” remembers MFMer Ashley M. My dentist was really helpful and suggested some alternative snacks to try that were lower in sugar. I also found brushing more and using a mouthwash helped clear it up after a couple of weeks.”

Good advice – thanks! But is there anything else I should know?

Dental check-ups are free for mums-to-be. You’ll need to make sure you’ve sent off for your NHS maternity exemption card to qualify and your midwife will give you the form at one of your early appointments.

And the good thing is that not only are appointments free of charge for your whole pregnancy, they are also free for up to a year after your due date too, so there’s no excuse not to smile….

Oh – just one more thing. Is it true that bleeding gums mean you’re going to have a girl?

Sadly, not. It’s just another one of those pregnancy myths!

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