One morning you're brushing your teeth and find that you're spitting blood when you rinse your mouth. That's a sign of gingivitis, or inflamed and bleeding gums, which affects up to 75 percent of all women during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, you're more apt to get gingivitis, which is caused by plaque, because your gums, like other tissues, swell in response to your new hormone levels, and your immune system may be less resistant.
Some studies show that pregnant women who have gum infections are at greater risk for having a premature or low birthweight baby. Head off gingivitis by brushing your teeth regularly with a soft toothbrush, flossing several times a day, chewing sugarless gum when you can't brush after a meal, and using an antiseptic mouthwash. Add a visit to the dentist as part of your prenatal care. Your hygienist can examine you for gum inflammation or infection, and a thorough cleaning to remove any plaque buildup can probably see you through the rest of your pregnancy.
You may also have bleeding gums if you have a pregnancy tumor known as a pyogenic granuloma. That's a scary name for something that's no big deal: tiny, fleshy nodules that appear on your gums and may bleed easily. They generally disappear on their own after childbirth; you can have them removed before your due date if they bother you too much.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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