Is it normal to get mouth or tongue sores during pregnancy? If you’re already someone who is prone to the occasional canker sore or aphthous ulcer, you may be wondering if it’s natural to see an uptick in tongue sores during pregnancy. But depending on how large they are and how many you have, it might not be pregnancy-related at all. On the other hand, the changes you’re going through as the result of growing another human being inside of you can take a toll on your body unlike you’ve ever experienced. Here’s how to know what’s normal (and what isn’t.)
Some types of mouth sores and tongue ulcers are viral, while others are associated with nutritional deficiencies (such as geographic tongue). Factors like dietary changes or oral hygiene habits during pregnancy can put you at an increased risk of canker sores and aphthous ulcers. Dental experts also agree that hormonal changes can place expectant women at a higher likelihood of ulcers or tongue sores during pregnancy. Symptoms generally improve in 1-2 months after giving birth.
Most tongue sores during pregnancy mimic the same signs and symptoms of traditional ulcers. They tend to be quite tender to the touch or even hurt so much that it’s difficult to eat. Looking closely, the area will appear smooth and raw. Sores are easier to see on your tongue since the papilla (finger-like projects) are no longer there.
The pain of most oral sores usually heals on its own within 10-14 days. You’ll probably notice the most discomfort during the first few days, with a gradual improvement until completely healed. At times you may not feel the discomfort at all, until you irritate it with something salty or rough
Occasionally, ulcers and tongue sores during pregnancy may also contribute to halitosis (bad breath.) Especially if the sore is due to a yeast or bacterial infection such as thrush.
If for any reason you have nodules or lumps alongside of the sore that makes swallowing difficult, you will need to see your dentist. Sores that don’t heal within two weeks should be screened by a healthcare professional to rule out the potential for oral cancer. Since early intervention and diagnosis are crucial for a successful oral cancer treatment, don’t put the visit off, even if the sore doesn’t hurt.
Trauma from a bump to the mouth — even if it’s with a toothbrush — can also lead to ulcers. A classic example is slipping with your toothbrush and hitting an area too hard. If you’re someone who ever wore braces, you probably got an ulcer or two where the metal wire constantly poked at your mouth. The surface irritation to your mouth is all it takes to create an ulcer.
Acidic foods, heartburn, and frequent bouts of morning sickness can lower the pH levels inside of your mouth. For some people those additional acid exposures can make them more prone to getting ulcers and sores. If any of those conditions affect you on a day to day basis, you can minimize acid exposure by frequent rinsing with water and sleeping with your head elevated. The key is to reduce how much contact time your stomach acids or acidic foods have inside your mouth.
Viral strains such as herpes are responsible for specific cluster-type ulcers and larger tongue sores that create cratered-out areas in your mouth. Rest assured, these strains are similar to like what you would see in chicken pox or shingles (not the STD.) They’re known for laying low inside of your body and occasionally flaring up, especially when your immune system is compromised.
Stress, allergies, and even certain blends of toothpaste (like those that contain sodium laurel sulfate) can also potentially trigger sores.
Treating tongue sores during pregnancy involves plenty of time and grace. The typical mouth sore or ulcer usually heals on its own within 7-10 days and no longer than two weeks. Anything longer than that could be cause for alarm.
Have you ever noticed oddly shaped tongue sores during pregnancy? Geographic tongue is a condition that — as you might guess — creates the appearance of what looks like a map spread across the top and sides of your tongue. The borders mirror that of the continents and shorelines you would see on a map or globe. On top of that, the shapes can gradually change as the sores “migrate” across your tongue.
The tastebuds and papillae (bumpy extensions) on your tongue in those areas will be raw and tender. The papilla are often destroyed temporarily and grow back once the condition subsides.
Ulcers, fever blisters, mouth, and tongue sores during pregnancy are usually the same type of sores you see when you aren’t pregnant. But stress and hormonal changes during pregnancy, along with dietary deficiencies, can play into your chances of more frequent mouth and tongue sores. With the proper self-care, most of these ulcers go away within 1-2 weeks. But if they aren’t healing properly or hurt so bad that they interfere with eating, it’s best to go ahead and have your dentist take a look at them.
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