If you or your child is considering braces, you need more than just a good orthodontist and misaligned teeth. You need healthy gums. Gums are the tissue that help hold your teeth in place. If your gums aren’t in good shape, there might also be problems with an unhealthy jaw bone, which can cause bone loss and also impact tooth stability. The teeth may have health issues too. Without that strong support system of bone, gums and healthy teeth, an orthodontist won’t recommend braces. Braces put pressure on the gums, as the teeth move into a new position. The gums need to be able to quickly react and heal.
Gums can undergo changes when you have braces.
While wearing braces, it’s possible to get some swollen gums or soreness. The soreness is usually caused by the bone changes as the teeth move into new positions. Hormones can also cause gum swelling or tenderness. Since braces often go on kids’ teeth during puberty, those changing hormones can also cause gum swelling. If you’re experiencing swelling or soreness in your gums while wearing braces, ask your dentist or orthodontist about it.
Maintaining healthy gums while wearing braces
It’s important to maintain healthy gums while wearing braces, as well. That can be tough, as it’s harder to clean the teeth and floss.
Flossing: If you have braces with a secured wire, called an archwire, flossing is more difficult. You may need to use a threader, which can be easily purchased at the drug store. The threader allows you to get the floss in between teeth and under the wire, so you can floss the teeth at the gum level, removing plaque and food. This takes a little more time, but is essential to keeping your gums in the best condition.
Brushing: With braces, it’s especially important to brush well, and frequently. Food and bacteria can get trapped more easily with braces since it’s harder to brush the brackets themselves, as well as areas behind and around the brackets. This can affect the gums. Without proper brushing, the gums and base of the teeth can accumulate plaque and bacteria, causing recession and gum disease. Some dentists recommend brushing after every meal or snack. Your dentist or orthodontist might also recommend an interdental toothbrush, which is a narrow bristle that which reaches under the wire, to clean the gaps between the teeth, positively impacting the gums. Water-Piks and electric toothbrushes are also recommended. If brushing isn’t an option, at least rinse the mouth out with water after eating.
Rinse: Using a fluoride or non-alcohol antimicrobial therapeutic mouthrinse twice a day is another action that can improve gum health. The rinse kills hard-to-reach bacteria. Just like sugary soda can get between the teeth and cause damage, this dental rinse can also reach those spots, reversing any damage caused by food or drink.
If you have any concerns about your gums, ask your dentist or orthodontist. Gum issues can be treated, and a good dentist like those at Klement Family Dental in St. Petersburg, Florida can recommend ways to best clean and care for your gums.