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31st Jan 2024

Why are your gums more likely to bleed when pregnant?

Anna Martin

brushing teeth pregnant gums

As if there’s not already so many changes when pregnant

Bleeding gums is just another thing to add onto what feels like a never ending list of symptoms and ailments that come with expecting.

If you start to see blood on your toothbrush, there’s no need to worry, it happens to a lot of pregnant people but there are things you can do to help.

What causes bleeding gums in pregnancy?

brushing teeth pregnant
Credit: Getty

Swollen, painful, bleeding gums can be caused by higher progesterone levels when expecting.

This makes you more susceptible to gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease caused by bacteria that’s built up around your gumline and has turned into plaque.

  • Dietary changes: Now that you’re pregnant, you’re food cravings may have a role to play. One study showed that veering toward unhealthy food choices can happen during pregnancy, when women experience changes in taste.
  • Decreased saliva production: Pregnancy means more hormones, and for some people, this may mean having less saliva. Less saliva means that the carbs you eat hang around on the surfaces of your teeth for longer, potentially leading to a buildup of plaque. Saliva can even become more acidic.
  • Toothpaste aversion: Food preferences aren’t the only thing changes you’ll notice. If you’re avoiding your twice-daily brushing habit because you can’t stand the smell of your toothpaste, try changing your trusted brand or using a milder flavour.
  • Morning sickness: If you’re dealing with this, make sure you rinse your mouth after you throw up so that you wash away the acid from your stomach. If you want to brush your teeth, wait about one hour, as the acid may have softened the enamel on your teeth.

How to keep your gums healthy

brushing teeth pregnant
Credit: Getty

There are ways to help prevent gingivitis when pregnant and luckily they are simple enough things you can factor into your routine.

  • Clean your teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and ask your dentist to show you a good brushing technique.
  • Floss once a day to remove small bits of food from between your teeth, which will help to prevent the build-up of plaque.
  • Brushing is best with a small-headed toothbrush with soft filaments.
  • Avoid having sugary drinks and sugary foods too often, try to keep them to meal times only.
  • If you’re hungry between meals, snack on foods such as vegetables, fresh fruit or plain yoghurt, and avoid sugary or acidic foods.
  • Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol.