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The Facts On Canker Sores And Pregnancy

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

During pregnancy, your body undergoes so many changes, both minor and major. With so much happening, it might be tough to discern what changes are pregnancy-related and what changes might be cause for deeper concern. While pregnancy can make you more susceptible to canker sores and they are often nothing to worry about, there are signs to look out for that could point to a more severe condition. Here, we’ll look into why you get canker sores during pregnancy and how to deal with them.

Canker Sores and Pregnancy

You’ve probably had them before: pesky irritable sores that appear on your mouth and tongue. Canker sores, also known as mouth sores or ulcers, are 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 the NHS, hormonal changes can trigger mouth ulcers during pregnancy. The first trimester of pregnancy is when hormone levels surge. This abrupt onset of emotional imbalance, in turn, can cause stress, which only exacerbates the problem. If your emotions run the gamut during pregnancy, canker sores may be a by-product of these intense moods and hormone imbalance. So if you find you’re developing canker sores during your first 12 weeks, you’re not alone.

Causes of Canker Sores

Beyond hormones and emotional stress, your canker sores may be due to other causes like food sensitivities, minor mouth trauma, and even a deficiency in vitamins. One vitamin deficiency that causes canker sores, folic acid, is actually crucial to consume during pregnancy. According to MedlinePlus, this vitamin aids in the growth of your baby’s spinal cord and brain, so taking this supplement not only eases your canker sores it also helps your baby’s growth.

Symptoms of a Deeper Issue

It's imperative to inform your medical professional 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 medical professional know and book an appointment.
  • Canker sores are usually painful. A cancerous mouth ulcer may not be painful at first, but can be tender and won't heal after several weeks, notes the NHS.
  • If you discover a lump in your mouth or on your lymph node that doesn't heal, reach out to your medical professional.

How to Prevent and Treat Canker Sores

There’s so much happening when you’re pregnant—and canker sores do not have to be a part of your journey. The key to preventing these small sores is to manage your oral and overall health. Get plenty of rest and take measures to minimize stress. Be sure to brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, and clean between your teeth with floss, water flossers, or another interdental cleaning device. Managing your stress levels and taking care of your oral health can go a long way to support a healthy pregnancy.

Canker sores typically disappear on their own within a week or two. Warm salt water rinses can help ease pain and avoid spicy or acidic food that can irritate this tender area. However, if you’re experiencing ongoing pain, talk to your medical professional before trying an over-the-counter solution. There are several treatments they may recommend, from mouth rinses to creams to nutritional supplements; however, they will take extra caution to be sure these treatments are safe during pregnancy.

While your body is going through exciting changes during pregnancy, it’s also undergoing stressful changes that can lead to unwanted side effects, like canker sores. Luckily, these sores most often are harmless and can be managed by maintaining excellent oral care and finding ways to relax and reduce stress.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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