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A dentist doesn’t necessarily need an ultrasound or blood test to know whether a patient is pregnant — one look in their mouth may do the trick.
Fourth-year dental student Sukhmani, or @thatdentalgal_ on TikTok, took to the platform to tell people that 30% to 50% of pregnant people develop “pregnancy gingivitis,” which happens when gums become “inflamed, tender, and more prone to bleeding,” she said.
That’s on top of other oral hints of pregnancy, like nausea and enamel erosion.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnancy gingivitis, or simply “swollen gums,” is caused by hormonal changes that boost blood flow to the gums and tamp down the body’s response to bacteria. In turn, it’s easier for plaque to build up.
While the severity of condition tends to be highest in the second trimester, it can crop up as early as eight weeks — earlier than many people are able to get an OB-GYN appointment to confirm their pregnancy.
Taking care of your teeth during pregnancy is critical. Gingivitis can lead to the gum disease periodontitis, which has been linked to an increased risk of preterm birth.
People with pregnancy gingivitis should take care to brush their teeth twice daily, especially after vomiting from morning sickness; regularly rinse their mouths with warm salt water; eat healthfully; and visit their dentist at least once during those nine months.