Braces and Gum Care FAQ

August 10, 2015

The effect of gum care on braces tends to be overlooked.

Do braces cause swollen gums?

While patients may experience swollen or painful gums in the first couple of weeks after getting orthodontic brace, this has more do with the dental care of the patient at the time of getting the braces, and their care afterwards.

A large factor in orthodontists’ recommending (even requiring) that a patient receive detailed dental treatment before and during braces is that the state of the patient’s oral hygiene plays a significant role in the orthodontic treatment. If there is existing plaque built up around the teeth before braces, or even the early tell-tale signs of gingivitis, the process of getting braces can be longer and uncomfortable.

Okay, how do I prevent that?

  • Brush and floss after every meal for excellent hygiene.
  • Message your gums with your toothbrush. This will help clear out additional germs as well as soothe the gums. If your gums are swollen, the massaging works in the same fashion that a massage serves to relieve stress from knotted muscles.
  • Avoid those hard, sticky, and sugary foods. Oral hygienists may sound like broken record, but this can never be stressed enough – especially with braces. Hard and sticky foods can get stuck in the braces and the residue from sugary foods can become harder to brush off if they get stuck in an area that braces make it difficult to reach.
  • Eliminate or reduce bad habits as much as possible. Nail biting, chewing on your lip, or hard chewing puts undue pressure on the gums. Adults are advised against tobacco, smokeless tobacco and alcohol consumption, as all of these can irritate the gums and add to the swelling.

My hygiene isn’t perfect, and/or I have receding gums. Should I avoid braces?

At Maple Orthodontics, we don’t turn people away just because they require more care. And you shouldn’t cheat yourself out of improvement just because things aren’t picture-perfect. We will work extensively with you and your dentist to put you in the best possible shape for braces, and will continue to guide your care for the duration of treatment.

If you have receding gums, yes you can still get braces. Gums recede naturally as a result of aging and can start at different times for different people. If your gums have receded for other reasons, we can administer precise care and pre-care to bring you up to speed.

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