Swollen gums are frequently a part of orthodontic treatment; however, if the condition persists, it may indicate a more serious problem developing. Learning what to look for and what steps to take for prevention help you take care of your teeth and gums during orthodontic treatment.
Pain and swelling are a normal part of orthodontic work, but they shouldn’t continue long term. When you first get your braces or have them regularly adjusted, it is normal to feel sore for two to three days. Your teeth are moving, which requires bone to dissolve and new bone to form, and tension and pressure are a normal part of this process.
Swelling from Gingivitis
If you experience swelling and soreness over time or that begins without a regular adjustment to trigger it, then it’s likely due to another factor. Buildup of plaque and bacteria on your teeth and gums causes gingivitis, which is the beginning stage of gum disease. The brackets, wires, and bands of orthodontic treatment cover a large portion of the tooth surface and make it more difficult to properly clean your teeth. This makes you more likely to develop a buildup of plaque and bacteria that leads to the early stages of gum disease. Swelling, redness, tenderness, and bleeding when brushing are symptoms of developing gum disease. As the disease advances, it can lead to more serious problems including detachment of the structures that support the teeth. This is particularly worrisome when the teeth are already being moved orthodontically. Proper oral care is always important, but it becomes even more so during orthodontic treatment when keeping the teeth clean is more of a challenge.
Hormones can Cause Swelling
Surges in hormone levels can contribute to gum disease. This can be a problem for pregnant women or women taking birth control pills; the increase in hormone levels makes them more likely to develop gum disease. For this reason, women are unlikely to begin orthodontic treatment while they are pregnant. If you become pregnant in the middle of orthodontic treatment, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to stay on top of the potential problem and discuss ways to prevent it. Hormones can also cause swollen gums in girls undergoing puberty; since many people have orthodontic treatment during their teenage years, these two events often occur at the same time.
Swelling due to Braces
Orthodontic devices on their own can cause gum irritation and swelling if the gums react to their close proximity to the devices. Hypertrophy is an overgrowth of gum cells and hyperplasia is an increase in gum cells; both of these conditions cause the gums to swell, giving the smile an unusual appearance. Unfortunately, the teeth become increasingly difficult to properly clean as the gums swell, leading to further problems. Stopping excessive gum growth early is ideal.
If you notice unusual swelling of the gums during orthodontic treatment, it is important to see your orthodontist right away. They can help you determine whether the swelling is due to plaque buildup, hormones, or irritation from orthodontic devices. Frequently, it’s the case that more than one of these conditions is present because they tend to compound one another. Your orthodontist can then work with you to develop a treatment plan. Usually, the most important step is to follow an increased oral hygiene routine; your orthodontist can recommend additional aids developed for use during orthodontic treatment and show you how to use them. Sometimes hypertrophy and hyperplasia will not go away until the devices are removed. Usually this is not a problem and the treatment can be finished, but sometimes the orthodontic device should be removed for a time to allow the gums to heal. Your orthodontist will monitor this closely to determine the appropriate course of action. Occasionally, they may refer you to a periodontist, someone who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of the structures supporting the teeth.
Proper Oral Care with Braces
Practicing proper oral care throughout your orthodontic treatment helps you avoid problems with irritated, swollen gums, and is usually the best way to treat the problems if they develop. Although it is more difficult to keep your teeth and gums clean during this time, it’s possible to do so with a little extra care. The following can help you practice proper oral care during your orthodontic treatment:
- Floss daily – Flossing is challenging, but floss threaders to help get floss under wires and interdental brushes that fit between the teeth make flossing easier.
- Brush at least twice a day – Brushing should be done for two minutes at a time with a soft-bristled toothbrush, beginning at a 45 degree angle to the gum line. Then angle down to brush the top of the brackets, and finally angle your toothbrush up to brush the bottom of the brackets.
- Rinse after brushing – Rinsing with water or mouthwash helps further clean your mouth.
- Visit your dentist – Schedule a regular dental visit or professional cleaning at least once every six months; sometimes more frequent visits are appropriate.
- Use oral care aids – Electric toothbrushes and water flossers are often helpful during orthodontic treatment. These devices may have special heads or tips for use with orthodontic devices and built in timers to make sure they are used for the right amount of time.
- Choose oral care products carefully – Oral Essentials products are specifically formulated to clean your mouth without the use of harmful chemicals, alcohol, or preservatives. The natural ingredients are carefully chosen to promote oral health and leave you with a fresh, clean smile.
Soreness and swelling are a normal part of orthodontic treatment, but sometimes it develops into a more serious condition. Early detection and proper oral care are the best ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout orthodontic treatment so that you end up with a beautiful, clean, and healthy smile.
About Oral Essentials:
Oral Essentials is a plant and mineral based oral care line that uses time honored ingredients such as Dead Sea Salt, Organic Aloe Vera, Essential Oils, and Non-GMO Xylitol. All our Products are Certified Non-Toxic, Alcohol Free, SLS Free, Preservative Free, and Free of Artificial Colors or Flavors. Click Here to Learn More. We are so sure you will love our products we offer a 30 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee.