Dentistry
Cosmetic
Product Reviews
Updated on October 3, 2022

Pregnancy Gingivitis: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

NewMouth is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links. Advertising Disclosure.

What is Pregnancy Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is an infection of the gums caused by plaque bacteria. It results in inflammation of the gums. Pregnancy gingivitis occurs when changes during pregnancy can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation, swelling, and bleeding. 

In many cases, pregnancy gingivitis is minor and goes away on its own. But if severe or left untreated, gingivitis can cause tooth decay. It can also spread to the underlying bone, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Is Gingivitis More Common During Pregnancy?

Pregnant people have an increased risk of developing gingivitis. By some estimates, 60 to 75% of pregnant people develop gingivitis.1

Currently, researchers think pregnant people are more likely to develop gingivitis because of:

  • Hormonal changes, specifically with progesterone and estrogen, during pregnancy
  • Increased blood flow to gum tissues
  • Reduced immunity, including to plaque bacteria
  • Dietary or behavioral habit changes, such as cravings for sugary foods and drinks or carbohydrates
  • Increased tooth exposure to acid as a result of frequent vomiting

Many people develop pregnancy gingivitis, or notice their symptoms are most severe, during the second trimester of pregnancy to the end of pregnancy.

Symptoms of Gingivitis During Pregnancy

The most common symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis are red, swollen, sore gums. But it may also cause:

  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Trouble or pain chewing 
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Small pockets between the gums and teeth
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Shiny, smooth gums
  • Bleeding or pain when brushing and/or flossing
  • Small, red, raw-looking lumps along the gumline

Treating Gingivitis During Pregnancy 

The best treatment for pregnancy gingivitis is getting frequent dental cleanings. If you have gingivitis, your dentist will also recommend you practice extremely good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing more frequently.

Additional treatments for mild pregnancy gingivitis include:

  • Gargling at least once a day with a warm saltwater rinse that is a mixture of 1 cup of warm water and 1 tsp of salt
  • Using prescription-grade mouthwashes

Treatments for severe pregnancy gingivitis include:

  • Tooth scaling and root planing, where a dentist scrapes off tartar (hardened plaque) from the teeth and then uses dental instruments to remove rough spots on teeth roots
  • Antibiotic gels, which a dental professional applies to shrink pockets on the gum line after tooth scaling and root planing procedures
  • Antibiotic chips, which are small, gelatin-based chips a dental professional inserts into pockets along the gum line after tooth scaling or planing
  • Flap surgery, where a dentist repositions gum tissue to remove tartar from pockets between the teeth and gums and then places stitches to seal the area.
  • Bone grafts, where a dentist replaces bone and tissue destroyed by infection with grafted tissues or bone

Does Pregnancy Gingivitis Go Away?

In most cases, pregnancy gingivitis resolves once someone has delivered their baby. While it may take some time to go away, symptoms typically reduce gradually after being pregnant.

Amazon Black Friday Deals

The best time to buy new water flossers, electric toothbrushes, and tons of other dental products is now.

Preventing Gingivitis While Pregnant 

You cannot change many of the underlying factors that increase the risk of developing gingivitis during pregnancy. But there are some ways to reduce the risk of pregnancy gingivitis or prevent it, such as:

  • Schedule regular or more frequent dental visits for deep cleanings while pregnant
  • Use a soft toothbrush to reduce gum irritation or damage
  • Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day or after every meal
  • Brush your teeth after eating foods that are sweet, sticky, or stick to the teeth and after vomiting
  • Floss or clean between the teeth at least once a day
  • Rinse the mouth at least once daily with a fluoride-containing, antiseptic mouthwash that does not contain alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy diet and reduce consumption of sugar or carbohydrate-rich foods and drinks
  • Drink fluoridated water instead of milk, juices, or sodas
  • Quit using tobacco products
  • Manage diabetes if you have it
  • Get enough of vitamins C, D, and A, calcium, and phosphorus

When to See a Dentist

If you notice changes in your gums or oral health, speak to a dentist. Visit a dentist as soon as possible if you:

  • Have gums that bleed easily or feel painful or sensitive
  • Notice pockets between your teeth and gums
  • Have loose or misaligned teeth

The American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all encourage women to maintain dental care while pregnant. 

“Professional dental care is critical in a pregnant woman’s life, and maintaining oral health is directly linked to good overall systemic health,” says Nandita Lilly, D.M.D., one of NewMouth’s in-house dentists. 

Summary

Many pregnant people develop gingivitis while they’re pregnant. This is likely due to surges in estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy, which makes the body more susceptible to infection. 

Increased blood flow to the gum tissues, cravings for sugars or carbohydrates, and exposure of the teeth to stomach acids after vomiting also increase the chances of developing gingivitis during pregnancy.

Most people with pregnancy gingivitis notice their symptoms resolve naturally after giving birth. 

If you notice changes in your gum health during pregnancy, or the symptoms don't go away on their own after pregnancy, talk to a dentist.

6 Sources Cited
Last updated on October 3, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Cleveland Clinic. “Pregnancy gingivitis.www.clevelandclinic.com, 2022.
  2. Cleveland Clinic. “Is It Safe to Go to the Dentist While Pregnant?” www.clevelandclinic.com, 2020.
  3. American Pregnancy Association. “Swollen Gums During Pregnancy.” www.americanpregnancy.org
  4. American Pregnancy Association. “Treat Gum Disease Naturally During Pregnancy.” www.americanpregnancy.org
  5. Mouth Healthy. “Nutrition tips for pregnancy.” www.mouthhealthy.org 
  6. Togoo, Rafi A., et al. “Knowledge of Pregnant Women about Pregnancy Gingivitis and Children Oral Health.” European Journal of Dentistry, 2019.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram