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Pregnancy Gingivitis and Pregnancy Tumors

Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase your risk for developing oral health problems like gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (gum disease). As a result of varying hormone levels, 40% of women will develop gingivitis sometime during their pregnancy -- a condition called pregnancy gingivitis.

The increased level of progesterone in pregnancy may make it easier for certain gingivitis-causing bacteria to grow, as well as make gum tissue more sensitive to plaque and exaggerate the body's response to the toxins (poisons) that result from plaque. In fact, if you already have significant gum disease, being pregnant may make it worse.

Symptoms of Gum Disease in Pregnancy

Usually, gum inflammation appears between the second and eighth month of pregnancy. Signs of pregnancy gingivitis range from redder- looking gums that bleed a little when brushing teeth, to severe swelling and bleeding of gum tissue.

Tips to Prevent Pregnancy Gingivitis

First, to prevent pregnancy gingivitis it is especially important to practice good oral hygiene habits, which include brushing at least twice a day, flossing once a day, and using an antimicrobial mouth rinse. If you are due for a professional cleaning, don't skip it simply because you are pregnant. Now more than ever, professional dental cleanings are particularly important.

Gum Disease and Premature Birth

At least a couple of major studies have shown that there is a link between gum disease and premature birth. Researchers of one study who published their results in The Journal of the American Dental Association found that pregnant women with chronic gum disease were four to seven times more likely to deliver prematurely (before gestational week 37) and underweight babies than mothers with healthy gums. 

Mothers with the most severe periodontal disease delivered the most prematurely, at 32 weeks. Whether treating gum disease reduces the risk of preterm birth is not yet known. 

Pregnancy Tumors

Sometimes a large lump with deep red pinpoint markings on it forms on inflamed gum tissue, usually near the upper gum line. The red lump glistens, may bleed and crust over, and can make eating and speaking difficult and cause discomfort. These growths are called pregnancy tumors and can occur at any time during the course of pregnancy, although they usually occur during the second trimester.

Don't let the word ''tumor'' worry you. These growths are not cancerous nor can be spread to others. A pregnancy tumor is an extreme inflammatory reaction to a local irritation (such as food particles or plaque). The tumors occur in up to 10% of pregnant women and often in women who also have pregnancy gingivitis.

Pregnancy tumors are also known by several other names, including pyogenic granuloma, granuloma of pregnancy, lobular capillary hemangioma, and pregnancy epulides.

Treatments for Pregnancy Tumors

Pregnancy tumors usually disappear on their own after the baby's birth. However, if the tumor interferes with eating, your dentist or a specialist may choose to remove it. This involves a simple procedure performed under local anesthesia. It should be kept in mind that even if the tumor is removed during pregnancy, it redevelops in about half the cases. If the lump is not removed, your dentist will try to determine the possible cause that triggered the tumor's development -- such as built-up plaque -- and remove it.

You can help prevent or reduce the likelihood that a pregnancy tumor will develop by following good oral hygiene habits at home (brushing twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, flossing once a day, using an antimicrobial mouth rinse) during your pregnancy.


 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on May 26, 2014

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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