While braces improve your mouth function and smile by moving teeth into better positions, they may also adversely affect another part of your oral health — your gums. It’s not uncommon for the gums of braces wearers to become inflamed during treatment.
There are a couple of reasons for this happening during orthodontic treatment. The braces (hardware) can make it difficult to brush or floss away bacterial plaque, the cause of periodontal (gum) disease that can lead to swollen, inflamed gums. Gum tissues may also react negatively to the hardware by swelling and overgrowing around the teeth, a condition known as hyperplasia.
Gum disease is potentially more than an irritation — if not treated, it can lead to the loss of supporting gum tissues and bone, which in turn, if not treated, could eventually lead to tooth loss. That’s why it’s important to practice effective hygiene while wearing braces despite the difficulties posed by the hardware.
Use a soft multi-tufted toothbrush to reach around the brackets and wires, making sure that you brush all the way around on the top side of the wire and once again all the way around on the bottom of the wire. Flossing can be especially difficult — to make it easier consider using a special floss threader or a water irrigator that pulses water under pressure to remove plaque from between teeth. And, most importantly, be sure you keep up regular office cleanings with your dentist to remove hard to reach plaque or calculus (hardened plaque deposits).
Despite your efforts, though, some of the symptoms (particularly overgrowth) won’t resolve until after the braces have been removed. If there hasn’t been any tissue detachment then it should only be a minor concern. Your orthodontist may refer you to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in gum conditions, to monitor your gum condition while you’re wearing braces.
With proper hygiene and extra attention the effect of braces on your gums will be minimal. In the end, you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful — and healthy — smile.
If you would like more information on caring for teeth and gums during orthodontic treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gum Swelling During Orthodontics.”