Attending to your health during pregnancy is a top priority, but with so many changes happening to your body, you may have trouble identifying whether an ailment is pregnancy-related or a deeper issue. While canker sores during pregnancy are common, there are signs to look out for that could point to a more serious condition.
Canker Sores and Pregnancy
The Mayo Clinic defines canker sores, also known as mouth sores or ulcers, as small blisters that appear on the soft tissue in your mouth or gums. Though they're not contagious and typically go away on their own, they can be painful and disruptive to eating and talking.
You may be surprised and frustrated to find you're more prone to canker sores when pregnant. According to Penn State at Hershey, hormonal shifts and stress can be triggers. In fact, women are more susceptible to getting canker sores than men, and they may occur more frequently based on heredity.
During your first trimester of pregnancy, hormone levels surge, and some women experience canker sores with higher frequency. Stress can exacerbate the problem. If your emotions run the gamut during pregnancy, canker sores may be a by-product of these intense moods and hormone imbalance.
Causes of Canker Sores
Beyond hormones and emotional stress, the Mayo Clinic includes food sensitivities, minor mouth trauma and even a deficiency in vitamins as other factors that could contribute to canker sores.
Folic acid is a critical vitamin during pregnancy that your baby needs for healthy growth, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, one Stanford Medicine study found that during pregnancy, your immune system may overcompensate to fight viruses like the flu. Though canker sores are not virus-based, if you're experiencing them more frequently during pregnancy, it may be a deficiency in folic acid or the way your immune system responds to fighting bacteria.
Symptoms of a Deeper Issue
It's imperative you let your doctor know about all the symptoms you experience during pregnancy. Here are some things to look out for that may be more than a canker sore:
- Generally, a canker sore lasts no longer than a few weeks. If the sore persists, let your doctor know and book an appointment.
- Canker sores are usually painful. A mouth ulcer that's cancerous may not be painful at first, but can be tender and won't heal after several weeks, notes the National Health Service.
- A lump in the mouth or lymph nodes that doesn't heal warrants a medical appointment with a physician.
How to Prevent Canker Sores
Canker sores and pregnancy are not a given if you make it a priority to manage your oral and overall health. Get plenty of rest and take measures to minimize stress. These two strategies can go a long way to support a healthy pregnancy, and worry may only increase the frequency of these unexpected sores. Select healthy foods that are nutritious and don't irritate your mouth. Good oral care inludes daily flossing and brushing gently with a toothbrush, like the Colgate Sensitive Toothbrush + Built-in Sensitivity Relief Pen, which has extra soft bristles and soft rubber polishing cups for sensitive teeth and gums.