Updated: Sep 6
Which trimester are you in? But, wait why are your gums bleeding more and what is that gum abscess like looking bump in your mouth?
It is no walk in the park being a pregnant woman and it only becomes more difficult as you progress through the trimesters. Your schedule becomes filled with doctor visits, especially to your OBGYN and everything else baby related. Unfortunately, sometimes your dentist fades to the back of your mind and gets left on the smallest back burner.
Then one day, you are suddenly being forced to remember your dentist because you noticed an abscess on your gums or at least what you think looks like one.
Perhaps something similar to this picture:
That is what we call a pregnancy tumor but just to emphasize, it is not cancer. Sure looks scary enough for you to remember your dentist!
Table of Contents:
What is a pregnancy tumor?
Pregnancy tumors are large gum-like abscesses that are a result of elevated hormones during pregnancy which overreact to plaque. They're often found near the gum line of your teeth and they may be isolated to one tooth or multiple teeth. This condition is essentially gingivitis on steroids with every growth hormone that you can imagine.
They typically present with these symptoms:
Very red and poofy looking gums
Easily bleeding gums
Sore and tender gums
According to studies, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to experience this condition. Approximately 11% or one in nine women will experience some sort of gum disorder during their pregnancy, so you're not alone!
What causes pregnancy gingivitis?
The condition is basically caused by gingivitis during pregnancy but it is exacerbated by the elevated levels of hormones. As you know, your hormones can get a little out of control while you're pregnant, giving you strange cravings and feeling certain emotionally.
Essentially your body overreacts to the plaque and it causes your gums to swell up into what looks like a giant gum abscess. However if you had the same amount of plaque and you were not pregnant, your gums would not get that inflamed looking. You would end up with just regular gingivitis. The main culprit is your elevated hormones overreacting to plaque.
All of the contributing factors:
Elevated hormones. Certain hormones are elevated during pregnancy and that causes an overreaction to plaque.
Frequent snacking. Pregnant women tend to eat and snack more often because they need to feed two humans.
Insufficient brushing. May not be brushing and flossing their teeth as frequently even though they've been eating more. Sometimes keeping up with their oral hygiene regime may slip their mind because of the hundreds of other baby related things going on.
Skipping dental check ups. Forgetting to go to their dentist for their biannual teeth cleanings because they're overloaded with other things related to the baby.
How to treat pregnancy gingivitis
If you are looking for a home remedy to treat it, you may be able to alleviate some of the symptoms but you won't cure it permanently. The only definitive treatment for this condition, is the same as treating gingivitis, which is to make an appointment with your dentist.
Teeth cleaning. A thorough dental cleaning should be able to cure the pregnancy tumor. This involves cleaning the teeth with the ultrasonic, followed by scaling the teeth to get rid of any tartar or plaque. Finally a polishing paste is applied.
Deep teeth cleaning. If the condition has progressed beyond the early stages and the gums have swelled up like the photo above, you may need to have the abscess drained in addition to the cleaning. Depending on how sensitive it feels, you may need some topical numbing gel or even local anesthesia such as Novocaine or Lidocaine.
Antibiotic rinse. Afterwards the cleaning your dentist may prescribe you an antibiotic mouth rinse to use for the next two weeks, twice a day. You will notice the gum swelling decrease and get tighter with each day of use. The color should change from poofy swollen red back to a pleasant pink.
This antibiotic mouthwash should only be used for as long as the prescribed time because it can be pretty staining on the teeth.
Alternatively you can also use a salt water rinse or even use coconut oil pulling if you prefer a more natural mouth rinse. Oil pulling has been shown to decrease plaque and help fight gingivitis.
To summarize, pregnancy tumors or pregnancy gingivitis, is basically your typical gingivitis but on steroids due to an overreaction of your body to plaque from elevated levels of hormones.
It is still safe to visit your dentist even while you are pregnant. In fact, it is encouraged that you do and be proactive about it so that you can avoid encountering this gum condition.
Stick with your biannual dental check up and teeth cleaning.
Stay on top of brushing your teeth and flossing your teeth twice a day.
You may want to increase the frequency of the brushing if you are eating more!
A personal recommendation of ours is to try to squeeze in a dental cleaning about a month before your baby is due because we've noticed that there were times where we don't get to see you guys again for an entire year because you've been so busy with your newborn!
Author: Written by Dr David Chen, general dentist in long island city.