Sore and Swollen Gums in Eighth Month of Pregnancy: Is This Normal?

I am in my eight month of pregnancy and I have developed soreness in my gums. They also appear to be swollen. Is this normal?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

It is common for expecting moms to develop an increased sensitivity to dental plaque, which may result in inflammation (swelling) and soreness. Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy, peaking in the eighth month (and usually improving in the ninth month as hormone levels change), affect the the body's response to the bacteria responsible for causing periodontal infections. Even though this is quite common, occurring in at least one-third of all pregnant women, it is important to consult with your dentist.

Only about half of the women with dental problems during pregnancy seek dental care (Journal of the American Dental Association, July 2001). This can be dangerous to both the woman's health as well as the wellbeing of her baby, as periodontal (gum) disease has been linked to preterm birth and low birth weight.

It's important to continue careful and thorough tooth brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, as well as flossing once a day, even if your gums are sore. And don't forget regular professional cleanings, which should continue as normally scheduled during pregnancy. Salt water rinses (one teaspoon in a cup of warm water) can be soothing.

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