Pregnancy Tumor: A Gum Problem To Be Worried About??

Firstly, a pregnancy tumor is not cancer.  They are not dangerous to you or your baby.

The ‘tumor’ is actually just a harmless growth in the mouth that can occur in pregnancy.  Only a small percentage of women will get this problem, and it usually occurs in the second trimester.

Also called:

  • Pyogenic granuloma
  • Pregnancy epulis.

 

Symptoms of Pregnancy Tumor

The following list outlines the possible symptoms that can accompany a pregnancy tumor:

"Image of a pregnancy tumor"

Front view of a pregnancy tumor. The ‘tumor’ has caused the teeth to drift apart.

  • Swollen lump, usually on the gum.  Can also occur elsewhere in the mouth.
  • Usually red although may be purple.
  • May bleed easily.
  • Can grow from a few millimeters to an more than an inch across in some cases.
  • Can grow quickly.
  • May cause discomfort, especially if the gum becomes ulcerated.

 

Causes of Pregnancy Tumor

Causes include the hormonal changes of pregnancy combined with:

"Image of pregnancy tumor from above"

Image of pregnancy tumor from above.

  • Inadequate oral hygiene.
  • Tartar build-up.
  • Physical irritation of the area or trauma e.g. a cut to the gum.

 

Prevention Tips

Prevention of pregnancy tumors are linked to prevention of the underlying causes:

  • Thorough oral hygiene, to include brushing twice a day and flossing daily between the teeth.
  • Regular professional dental cleanings, including during the middle of your pregnancy.

 

Prognosis

A pregnancy tumor will usually disappear after the baby is born.

However if it is very large and/or the oral hygiene remains poor, the lump may persist after pregnancy.

 

Treatment of pregnancy tumor

A pregnancy tumor may be treated if it is causing:

  • Discomfort, for example on eating.
  • Problems with speech.
  • Embarrassing appearance.
  • Making it hard to clean the teeth.

 

The first course of treatment, especially if the lump is small, is for the dentist to clean the area.  Often there is obvious build-up of tartar that causes the growth and removal of this tartar will cause the growth to shrink.  If it persists, the lump may need to be physically removed.

Removal usually involves the lump being numbed up with local anesthetic and the dentist (or specialist – eg a periodontist or an oral surgeon) removing the lump in one piece.

However the growth will often come back, even after being fully removed.  This is especially the case if the teeth are not being cleaned properly or any tartar persists.

 

Summary

The name is misleading; pregnancy tumor is not a mouth cancer.  They pose no threat to your general health, and generally shrink in size after your baby is born.  However they can be annoying and cause problems inside your mouth.  Always seek advice from your dentist if you have any lumps or swellings on your gums.

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