General Dentistry

Dr George Connell

Is it normal to have bleeding gums in pregnancy?


Tender, swollen or bleeding gums in pregnancy?

While it may be uncomfortable, bleeding gums and pregnancy often go hand-in-hand. And the good news is that it’s completely normal. This condition is known as ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ — a mild form of gum disease caused by the build-up of plaque along the gumline.

Seeing blood when brushing or flossing may be a worry, especially if you’ve never had this before. Yet, half of all women experience bleeding gums during pregnancy. 

It often happens during the second trimester, and may peak during the third trimester. But with the right care, it’s possible to help protect your teeth and gums throughout your pregnancy.

Why do gums bleed when pregnant?

Pregnancy brings many changes that can affect your oral health. Here are some common causes of swollen and bleeding gums in pregnancy.


Increasing blood flow to the gum tissue is a result of the surge in estrogen and progesterone. This causes the gums to become swollen and tender. But it also increases the risk of bleeding when brushing and flossing.


With pregnancy often comes cravings for sweet, high-carbohydrate, and ‘sometimes’ foods! Unfortunately, sugary foods create the perfect oral environment for bacteria to thrive. As pregnant women are at higher risk of gingivitis, it pays to be extra careful.

Changes in saliva

During pregnancy, it’s completely normal for the mouth to produce less saliva. You can thank hormonal changes and increased blood production for this! But, a dry mouth isn’t just uncomfortable, it can affect your oral health. Without saliva, bacteria and food debris remains in the mouth. Left unchecked, this can lead to tooth decay and cavities.

Feeling nauseous causes some pregnant women to avoid brushing their teeth.
Some pregnant women avoid brushing their teeth because they develop a sudden dislike of the taste of toothpaste or feel too nauseous.

Morning sickness

Oh, the joy of morning (or, for some, all day) sickness! Frequent vomiting causes dryness and increases the gastric acid in your mouth. This erodes the enamel that protects your teeth and may lead to sensitivity (ouch!) and toothache (double ouch!).

Pregnancy tumours

Pyogenic granulomas (AKA pregnancy tumours) most often appear along the gums. They are small, raised, red bumps that bleed on brushing. But don’t let the word ‘tumour’ send you into a spin—they’re rare and usually harmless. They tend to disappear on their own after birth.

Toothpaste dislike

Some pregnant women avoid brushing their teeth because they develop a sudden dislike of the taste of toothpaste (hello food aversions!) or feel too nauseous (hello again morning sickness!). This break in oral hygiene habits can lead to a build-up of bacteria, bleeding gums and decay.

Want to brush up on your oral health during pregnancy?

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4 ways to reduce swollen and bleeding gums in pregnancy

Here are four simple actions that you can take to help ease pregnancy gingivitis.

1. Practice good oral hygiene

Proper oral care is the simplest and most effective way to take care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy . 

- Brush teeth twice a day (a soft or medium bristled toothbrush is ideal)

- Use a fluoridated toothpaste

- Floss daily (yes, even if gums bleed)

If the taste of toothpaste makes you gag, switch to a brand of toothpaste with a milder flavour. And if taste or smell remains a problem, brush with water alone and include an alcohol-free fluoride mouth rinse as part of your dental routine.

Is morning sickness and nausea stopping you from brushing and flossing your teeth altogether? Perhaps try to shift your oral hygiene routine to a different time of day when your symptoms are milder. Brushing your teeth at any time of the day is better than not brushing at all!

Eating a varied diet, rich in vitamins and minerals, is fundamental to maintain healthy gums during pregnancy.
Vitamin C, available in citrus fruits and berries, is great for strengthening teeth and gums.

2. Eat healthy

Limit sugary foods and drinks and make sure you’re eating a varied diet, rich in vitamins and minerals. Try to include the following:

Vitamin Oral Benefits Good Food Sources
Vitamin C Great for strengthening teeth and gums Citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, kale, and sweet potatoes
Vitamin D Plays an essential role in bone and tooth mineralisation Oily fish (such as salmon and tuna), egg yolks, and fortified foods - such as cereals and margarines
Calcium Encourages strong teeth and bones Milk, cheese and other dairy foods, as well as leafy green vegetables
Vitamin A Supports immune function, including saliva production Orange-coloured fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, squash, spinach, and mangoes

3. Treat bleeding gums with a home remedy

Brushing teeth with a baking soda + water paste may help get rid of plaque. Studies also show salt water may help reduce the inflammation associated with gingivitis. So, why not try a salt rinse? Simply mix up ½ teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of warm water and give it a swish.

4. Stay on track with dental check-ups

In case you’re wondering—yes, it’s perfectly safe to book in for a dental check-up and professional clean during pregnancy. In fact, it is highly recommended that you visit your dentist for a check-up at least once during your time with bub-on-board. This is key to catching any early warning signs of pregnancy gingivitis and preventing it from developing into more serious stages of gum disease. 

Don’t forget to mention you’re pregnant, so your dentist or hygienist can tailor their care to best suit your needs. 

Besides your routine check-ups, make sure you call your dentist right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:

- Persistent toothache

- Painful gums that bleed often

- Receding gums

- Bad breath

- Loose teeth

- Growths or numbness in the mouth

Dentist tailors the treatment to suit the pregnant woman’s needs.
It is not only safe but highly recommended that you visit your dentist for a check-up at least once during your pregnancy.

Will I still have bleeding gums after pregnancy?

While gingivitis is common, for most pregnant women it disappears after giving birth. However, it pays to take extra care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy. Because, if left untreated, pregnancy gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease. 

Periodontitis is an advanced form of gingivitis, which attacks the gums and bone around the teeth. Some studies suggest there may be a possible risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and pre-eclampsia, but this is an area of ongoing research.

Want to know more about bleeding gums in pregnancy?

Got a question or concern about keeping your teeth and gums healthy in pregnancy?

Feel free to get in touch and we’ll happily answer your questions. 

Alternatively, book in for a dental check-up or clean at either our Gregory Hills or Moss Vale dental practice.



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