What is pregnancy gingivitis?

Besides the very obvious physical exterior changes a woman goes through during pregnancy, there are other more subtle changes that occur in the mouth. Many pregnant women ask “why do my gums bleed all of a sudden when I brush and floss my teeth? Why are my gums so sensitive when I brush and floss?”.

The constant hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can play havoc on the gums. Research shows the gums are much more sensitive and prone to inflammation from the bacteria in your mouth during pregnancy. This increase in inflammation can make the gums more delicate and prone to bleeding when normal brushing and flossing forces are applied.

In addition, growths called pyogenic granulomas (pregnancy tumours) can occur. These benign growths are usually raised, red, bleed very easily, and can range in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. They can grow on many parts of the body not only in the mouth. If small enough they resolve on their own with good hygiene, but if they grow large enough your dentist may have to remove them.

Research shows a strong association between gingivitis and preeclampsia, premature birth, and low birth weight infants. This does occur more in severe forms of gingivitis and periodontitis. As a result, pregnant woman should make sure they are educated on, and practice proper oral hygiene care. Regular checkups with dentists and hygienists are very important during pregnancy and even pre-pregnancy (to eliminate any existing gingival/periodontal conditions).