Gingivitis & Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body experiences all types of hormonal changes, creating varying bodily reactions in women. One area that can be affected by increased progesterone is your mouth.

“Pregnancy gingivitis” is an inflammation of the gums caused by a bacterial film that grows on the teeth, resulting in plaque buildup. The plaque irritates the gums, causing a bright red appearance, swelling and tenderness. You may notice bleeding when you brush or floss. This typically appears between the second and eighth month of your term.


Pregnancy gingivitis affects
50-70 percent of pregnant women

Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious gum disease such as periodontitis. If you’ve entered pregnancy with pre-existing gingivitis, it may worsen, especially without treatment.


Can gum disease affect my pregnancy?
Infected and swollen gums harbor disease-causing bacteria, which release toxins that can attack the ligaments, gums, and bones surrounding your teeth. As a result, pockets of infection are created, much like small infected wounds. This then enables the bacteria to access your bloodstream, that can travel further throughout your body. If the gingivitis-causing bacteria enters your bloodstream, it has the possibility of traveling to the uterus, which will trigger the body to produce prostaglandins. These are natural fatty acids that typically control inflammation and smooth muscle contractions. However, when a woman is pregnant and prostaglandins are increased and peaked, she goes into labor.

Women with pregnancy gingivitis
are 7 times more likely to go into
preterm labor, preclampsia,
and have low-birth weight babies

If the body produces extra prostaglandins in response to infected gums, premature labor can occur. According to The Journal of the American Dental Association, mothers with the most severe periodontal disease delivered the most prematurely (32 weeks).

Since there is strong and compelling evidence to motivate expectant mothers to prevent gum disease, here are measures you can take to avoid developing gingivitis while your little bun is in the oven:

Consult your dentistSpeak with your dental provider before, during, and after your pregnancy. Early intervention is key and ongoing care is also important.

Use proper oral hygieneGently brush and floss regularly and thoroughly after meals and snacks, especially sugary ones. Use a soft-bristled brush, anti-plaque toothpaste with fluoride, and rinse afterward with an antimicrobial mouth wash to rid hard-to-reach places of leftover bacteria. If tooth brushing causes morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water, brush without the toothpaste, and use an anti-plaque fluoride mouthwash afterwards.

Increase your dental cleanings Schedule 2-3 during your pregnancy. This will lower your risk of gum disease by ensuring plaque is removed from teeth and gums. Your dentist can remove plaque and tartar that brushing at home cannot reach. These cleanings are more important than ever, now that you are expecting, and should be considered part of your prenatal care!

Eat healthy – Proper nutrition limits sugar intake, which minimizes plaque build up.

Treat tooth decay Attempt to complete all dental work prior to pregnancy, especially emergency work that exposes you to bacteria. If necessary, local anesthesia, such as Novocain, is safe throughout pregnancy. If antibiotics are needed, there are pregnancy-safe drugs available.

If an expectant mom has
untreated tooth decay and/or
consumes a lot of sugar,
their baby will have 4 times
the risk of developing tooth decay

Limit sharing – Avoid sharing food and utensils that could transmit bacteria from others, which can promote tooth decay.

Chew gum – Chewing xylitol gum (approximately 4x/day) may decrease your risk of decay. It increases saliva and enzymes that equalize oral pH, reducing cavity growth.

Rinse Mouth – If you’re suffering from morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water frequently and/or brush your teeth as often as possible to neutralize the acid caused by vomiting.


If you are pregnant and your gums are causing you issues, call Dr. Arhiri at 610-647-7611 or email

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