Morning sickness, swollen feet, insomnia… there are plenty of not-so-pleasant symptoms you might experience during pregnancy. But did you know that bleeding gums can also be one of them?

Pregnancy increases the risk of periodontal (gum) disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 60 to 75% of pregnant people have gingivitis, an early form of periodontal disease characterized by inflammation of the gums that causes redness, swelling, tenderness, and bleeding.

If left untreated, gum disease can lead to more serious dental issues, including bone loss and infection. Studies have also linked severe gum disease to negative pregnancy outcomes, like low birthweight and preterm birth—though more research needs to be conducted.

Naturally, you’re probably wondering how your oral health could impact your growing fetus. If you’re expecting or planning to become pregnant, here’s what you should know about gum disease and pregnancy, and what to do if you’re experiencing bleeding gums.


There are several reasons why pregnant people have an increased risk of bleeding gums and gingivitis, including the following:

  • Hormonal Factors: The primary cause of pregnancy gingivitis is hormonal changes, especially involving estrogen and progesterone. High levels of these hormones “correlate with an increase in dental plaque, a sticky mixture of bacteria, food, and debris,” says Joseph Dill, DDS, MBA, chief dental officer of the Delta Dental Plans Association. Plaque can harden, breed bacteria, and inflame the gingival tissue.
  • Dietary Changes: Some pregnant people crave super-sweet items or other foods that aren’t otherwise part of their regular diet, which might increase the risk of dental plaque.
  • Morning Sickness: Queasiness can cause an aversion to toothpaste. Morning sickness sufferers may also avoid brushing their teeth for fear of gagging.
  • Salvia Production: Pregnant people may produce less saliva, which can also lead to increased plaque and therefore gingivitis. 

What to do:

If you’re pregnant and experiencing bleeding gums or other symptoms of gingivitis, it’s vital to see your dentist. They’ll give you a thorough cleaning to get rid of harmful plaque, tartar, and bacteria. Scaling and root planing (cleaning procedures that reach deeper beneath your gums) may sometimes be necessary.

During your appointment, the dentist may also repair any damaged dental work. They’ll advise you on proper oral care since prevention goes a long way toward keeping your mouth healthy while pregnant. Finally, the dentist may give you a prescription mouthwash.

Rest assured that treatment of pregnancy gum disease isn’t associated with adverse maternal or birth outcomes, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Furthermore, the American Dental Association says that dental X-rays are safe, as long as the provider uses abdominal and thyroid shielding.

For more information on caring for your gums and how we can help or to schedule an appointment, contact Havrilla Center of Periodontics & Dental Implants in Broomall, PA, today.