Pregnancy is a particularly sensitive time for many women. Not only are there physical and emotional changes taking place, but the body is also going through a number of hormonal fluctuations that can cause a variety of symptoms. Teeth sensitivity starts in pregnancy, for example, and a lot of women experience morning sickness. One condition that can be particularly bothersome during pregnancy is canker sores.
Canker sores are small aphthous ulcers that form in the mouth, typically on the inner cheeks or lips. They’re extremely painful and often have a white or yellow center surrounded by a red border. Canker sores usually last for about two weeks before healing on their own; however they can be quite uncomfortable in the meantime.
Unfortunately, canker sores and pregnancy aren't always a great mix. It’s important to understand what causes canker sores during pregnancy and how best to manage them. Let’s take a look at the details.
The Relationship Between Canker Sores And Pregnancy
If you've navigated to this page, you're likely interested to know why canker sores flare up during pregnancy. Note that canker sores aren't a direct result of being with child; they are the outcome of several changes that occur in the body during pregnancy. Let's take a look at what these changes are.
Change In Hormones
When you enter the first stages of pregnancy, your body begins to produce a hormone called progesterone. This hormone, along with others such as estrogen, play an important role in preparing the uterus for a fetus and maintaining pregnancy. The body begins to produce and circulate these hormones in very high amounts.
As a result of the sudden surge of hormones, oral symptoms begin to appear for many women – such as swollen or bleeding gums, canker sores, gingivitis, or swollen glands. It's important to note that these symptoms are usually short-lived.
Low Vitamin Levels And Nutritional Deficiencies
Pregnancy is a fascinating biological process. As your child grows in utero, they absorb a lot of the nutrients in your bloodstream – meaning that they get the nutrients they need before you do. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies that may cause canker sores to flare up.
According to research, there are a few key nutrients associated with canker sores:
- Folic acid. Found in leafy green vegetables and legumes, folic acid helps the body produce red blood cells.
- Iron. This nutrient helps transport oxygen in the body, and is found in foods like red meat, poultry, beans, and spinach.
- Vitamin B12. The B vitamins are crucial for healthy immune and nervous systems. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products like eggs, dairy, and fish.
- Calcium and Vitamin D. These two nutrients help keep our bones and teeth strong. Calcium can be found in dairy, leafy green vegetables, and legumes; while vitamin D is found in fortified milk and fatty fish like salmon or tuna.
- Zinc. Finally, zinc helps the body heal and fight infections. It's found in foods like nuts, legumes, and seafood.
Deficiencies in any, some, or all of these nutrients can lead to an increased risk of poor oral health during pregnancy.
There's no denying that pregnancy is a stressful time for many women. The combination of physical and hormonal changes, coupled with the mental stress associated with having a baby, can lead to higher levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Research has found a link between higher salivary cortisol levels and an increased risk of canker sores.
Note that teeth whitening during pregnancy could also contribute to canker sores due to the irritating properties in high levels of bleaching agent.
What To Do If You Get Canker Sores When Pregnant
Don't be surprised if you get canker sores whilst pregnant. Many women even get them during menstruation – so it's not unusual for them to appear during pregnancy. In fact, it's quite likely.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce the severity of canker sores:
- Numb the pain with Bonjela or similar anesthetic solutions. Most of these solutions are safe for pregnant women and can help reduce the pain associated with canker sores.
- Increase your intake of folic acid, iron, vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin D, as well as zinc – either through foods or supplements.
- Reduce stress levels by engaging in relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.
- Use a warm saltwater rinse to soothe the pain of canker sores. The iodine in the salt can help cleanse the sore and reduce inflammation.
- Avoid acidic or spicy foods that can irritate canker sores.
If you follow these tips, you should be able to effectively manage any canker sores during early pregnancy. If your symptoms do not improve after a few days, it's best to consult with your doctor for further advice.
How To Strengthen Your Immune System During Pregnancy
Your immune system is the key to avoiding canker sores and other oral health problems during pregnancy. The reason for this is simple: your immune system is your defense against infection and disease. If it's compromised, then you're more likely to experience health problems. Let's look at some of the ways you can strengthen your immune system during pregnancy.
Brush And Floss Daily
Everyone gets bored of hearing about the importance of brushing and flossing, but it really is essential for strong oral health. Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth that can cause infection or inflammation. Plaque buildup can also contribute to canker sores, so make sure you keep your teeth clean.
Eat Whole, Nutrient-Dense Foods
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help keep your immune system strong. These foods are full of essential vitamins and minerals that will help boost your immunity. You should also make sure you're getting enough protein from lean sources like chicken or fish to support healthy cell growth and repair.
See Your Dentist Regularly
Dentists are able to see problems in your mouth that you may not be able to. This means they can help identify the causes of canker sores and suggest treatments to reduce their severity or frequency. Regular check-ups also allow your dentist to make sure any existing problems are being effectively managed. It’s best to avoid tooth extraction during pregnancy, but simple check-ups and cleaning is perfectly fine.
Get Daily Exercise
Did you know that fitness drastically improves your immune system? Exercise increases the production of certain hormones and proteins that can help fight off infection. Getting some physical activity every day, such as walking or swimming, can also reduce stress levels and improve mental health – which has been linked to a stronger immune system.
Take A High-Quality Prenatal Vitamin
Prenatal vitamins are specifically formulated to provide your body with the nutrients it needs during pregnancy. They contain high levels of folic acid and other important vitamins and minerals that can help keep your immune system functioning optimally. Take your prenatal vitamin every day to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs.
Improve Your Sleep Habits To Stay Rested
Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to keep your immune system strong. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night, and avoid activities that might interfere with a good night's rest, such as drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day or sleeping in front of electronic devices.
Canker sores during pregnancy are a common and sometimes uncomfortable problem for many women. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to reduce their severity or frequency. The most important thing is to take care of yourself by eating nutritious foods, getting regular exercise, seeing your dentist regularly, taking a prenatal vitamin every day, and getting enough restful sleep. Doing these things will help keep your immune system strong and reduce your risk of canker sores.
Still got questions? Let's take a look at some common questions about canker sores during pregnancy.
Are Canker Sores Normal During Pregnancy?
Yes, canker sores during pregnancy are common and usually not a cause for concern. They're usually the simple result of hormonal changes, stress, or fatigue – all unfortunate symptoms, but all manageable. Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Are Canker Sores A Pregnancy Symptom?
Pregnancy brings about a whole host of symptoms due to the change in lifestyle habits and fluctuations in hormone levels. Canker sores are not a common pregnancy symptom, but they can be caused by the same factors that contribute to other symptoms like morning sickness or fatigue.
If you get canker sores during pregnancy, rest assured that this is quite normal and can likely be traced back to stress, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, or a weakened immune system. Try the tips above to help keep canker sores away and stay healthy during your pregnancy!
Are Canker Sores Dangerous During Pregnancy?
Canker sores during pregnancy are usually not dangerous and can be managed with over-the-counter ointments or medications. If you're concerned, however, speak to your doctor right away to get proper advice on how to manage the condition. Always check with a health professional before taking any medication just in case it poses a risk to you or your baby.
Are Canker Sores Related To Pregnancy?
Yes, canker sores can be traced back to pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue, stress, and a weakened immune system. The different eating habits you pick up during pregnancy as well as the lower absorption of nutrients can also contribute to canker sores. If you get canker sores whilst pregnant, don't be surprised – it's not uncommon.
Are Canker Sores Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes, canker sores are usually safe during pregnancy. However, it's always best to talk to your doctor if you want to use over-the-counter medications or remedies for them just in case they pose any risk. Canker sores can occasionally be indicative of a more serious problem; not always, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Take care of yourself and your baby by following the tips above. Canker sores during pregnancy are common, and you should have no problem managing them with a few simple lifestyle changes.
Are Canker Sores More Common During Pregnancy?
Yes. Since pregnancy symptoms create the conditions for canker sores to form, you are more likely to get them when pregnant. However, this doesn't mean that you will definitely get canker sores during pregnancy – just that it's more likely. Hormonal fluctuations of progesterone and estrogen can lead to canker sores, as can other factors like nutrition, fatigue, and stress.
Can Canker Sores Be Caused By Pregnancy?
Pregnancy does not directly cause canker sores. Indirectly, however, it can be a contributing factor. As mentioned before, pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and stress can create the conditions for canker sores to form. Additionally, hormonal changes during pregnancy may lead to an increase in acidity in your mouth, which is another likely cause of them.