When you become pregnant, there are certain bodily changes you expect to undergo -- weight gain, swelling in the legs, and digestive troubles, for example. For some reason, many pregnant women are not aware that changes may also occur in their mouths. Don't panic if you experience the following pregnancy-related oral issues. They're completely normal, and there are safe and easy ways to deal with them.
Sore, Swollen Gums
When you become pregnant, your blood volume increases to accommodate your baby's oxygen and nutrient needs. All of the extra fluid in your veins can cause some swelling. This is what causes the well-known ankle swelling many women experience, as well as the lesser-known gum soreness. The change in hormone levels that you experience during pregnancy can also alter the pH of your saliva, which prompts oral bacteria to grow and exacerbate the swelling problem.
If your gums are sore, red, or swollen during pregnancy, the best thing you can do is improve your dental hygiene routine. Be extra sure to brush at least twice per day for 2 minutes or more. Have your partner remind you to floss. Bring a toothbrush to work so you can brush after lunch. You can also rinse your mouth with salt water a few times per day. The salt will help suck extra liquid out of your gum tissues while also fighting off oral bacteria.
If your gum soreness does not subside within a week or so, speak with your dentist. He or she can ensure the problem does not progress into full-blown periodontitis or threaten the health of your teeth. You may be given a deep cleaning procedure or a special gel to apply to your gums to help ease symptoms. Once you give birth, your gums should return to normal as long as you keep up with your oral hygiene routine.
Red or Purple Bumps on Your Gums
You wouldn't be the first pregnant woman to panic and think she has oral cancer the second one of these bumps show up. While you should have such a bump checked out by your dentist just in case it happens to be something serious, there's a very good chance that it's just a pregnancy tumor. The term "tumor" makes this problem sound a lot worse than it is. Pregnancy tumors are not dangerous. Like gum soreness and swelling, they are primarily caused by hormonal changes, though women who have poor oral hygiene or mouth irritation are more likely to develop them.
Appearing in up to 5% of pregnant women (usually during the first or second trimester), these tumors are most often found near the gumline, though they can appear anywhere in the mouth. They can be big or small, sore or painless, crusty or smooth. Many women find that their tumors bleed easily when they brush their teeth.
If your pregnancy tumors are not bothering you, then your dentist may recommend just leaving them alone. They should shrink on their own once you give birth. Sometimes this takes a few weeks -- especially if you are nursing -- so you'll need to be patient.
If your pregnancy tumors are painful or you can't stand the way they look, your dentist may remove them. This involves numbing the surrounding tissue with a injection of local anesthetic (yes, this is safe) and then removing the affected tissue with a scalpel. If the tumor is large, a stitch or two may be required. Within a few days, the soreness should be gone.
Pregnancy alters your hormonal balance, and this leads to changes in most every tissue in your body -- including those in your mouth. If your gums become sore or you develop oral tumors during pregnancy, rest assured that these changes are temporary. If you deal with them properly as described above, you have no reason at all to worry. For more information, contact a clinic like Apollo Dental Center.