Can Braces Cause Your Gums to Become Infected?

man scared at dentist - Idaho Falls orthodontist

Getting the smile of your dreams is just one of the many benefits than orthodontic treatments, such as braces can help you to achieve. Aside from straightening your smile, braces can adjust malocclusions such as overbites, underbites, and crossbites which can all lead to numerous health issues down the road if not corrected properly. However, getting any type of braces, such as ceramic, Damon braces, metal and even invisible aligners, will require that you change some of your oral hygiene habits, as well as some of the food you eat and your habits in order to avoid issues like broken brackets or worse infected gums.

Swollen gums are almost synonymous with braces. When you first get them put on and every appointment that they are tightened, there will be some pressure.  Most of the time this is because your mouth is still getting used to you wearing this new “hardware”. Even though swollen gums seem to go hand-in-hand with braces, there are some tips your Falls orthodontist will give you in order to relieve your swollen gums and avoid the possibility of getting infected gums. Below you’ll find information about why braces cause swollen gums that may lead to them becoming infected, alongside tips and treatment plans to help tackle this issue.

Why Do Braces Cause Your Gums to Swell?

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According to Mayo Clinic, as your teeth are repositioned, either during your first appointment or subsequent “re-adjustment” appointments, new bone is formed and old bone dissolves. This causes tension and pressure, which many of us associate with braces when we first get them. Additionally, this can cause the gums to swell when braces are tightened by your Idaho Falls orthodontist. This is normal. But swollen gums that last longer than a week after just getting your braces or having them adjusted may be a sign that your gums are infected.

Besides gum infection, braces can cause some people to develop what is known as hyperplasia or hypertrophy which causes the cells of the gums to overproduce, resulting in swollen or enlarged gums. This condition can occur due to the presence of braces or it may be caused by medicine and can even be inherited. If this occurs speak with your Idaho Falls orthodontist about the various treatment options that are available for you.

Are Braces The Cause of Infected Gums?

Yes and no. While braces aren’t the direct cause of infected gums also known as gingivitis (which can lead to periodontal disease) they can be a key player in their formation. Braces add an additional element to the surface of the teeth from the ceramic or metal bracket and can make it difficult to get in between teeth because of the wires that hold them together across your teeth. These factors make it much harder to remove plaque. This plaque and any build up of food can cause the gums to become infected leaving your gums irritated and swollen. Unfortunately, hormones during puberty in girls and even during pregnancy can cause an increase in gum swelling, even if the orthodontic oral hygiene habits are followed exactly. For this reason, it’s best to avoid (if possible) getting braces during this time in a person’s life.

Idaho Falls Orthodontic Tips for Swollen Gums

From certain foods to avoid, pain management and proper oral hygiene habits, the following tips from your orthodontist, will hopefully help you avoid long-term swollen or infected gums while you wear your braces.

Oral Hygiene Habits

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To avoid infected gums with braces due to poor hygiene habits, follow this routine:

  • Use a soft toothbrush to clean your teeth daily. Preferably in the morning and before you go to bed for at least two minutes.
  • Floss when you brush your teeth and between your teeth. While flossing can be much more difficult with braces, it’s almost more important than when you don’t have braces to floss! When you get your braces, your Idaho Falls orthodontist will show you the right way to floss and even give you special orthodontic floss threaders to make it easier for you to floss.
  • Floss after each meal and gently brush if necessary.
  • Massage your gums gently with a soft bristled brush.
  • Wash your mouth out with fluoride mouth rinse or saltwater if mouthwash only increases your gum irritation.

Lifestyle Habits

In addition to adhering to the above oral hygiene habits, there are some lifestyle habits such as diet and smoking or using tobacco products that may need to be changed and/or avoided. These include:

  • Change your diet. If you’re eating hard or crunchy foods often, this can lead to gum irritation and even injury. Try limiting or avoiding hard food and opting for softer foods while you’re wearing braces or at least while your gums are more sensitive.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, as these products are specifically linked to gum disease.

Pain Management

Although, lifestyle changes and proper oral hygiene can help to reduce and even get rid of infected gums caused by braces, you may need something that manages the pain immediately! Below is a list of home remedies that you can use to alleviate some of the pain. If for some reason these don’t work, consult with your doctor to see if there are other options available to you.

  • Apply an ice pack to the outside of your mouth/affected area. Make sure to put a barrier like a thin towel between the ice pack and your skin.
  • According to LiveStrong, drinking cold water can help to reduce some of the swelling. Even sucking on ice chips is a good idea.
  • Over-the-counter pain medication and anti-inflammatory medicine such as Ibuprofen can be taken to reduce gum irritation.
  • Topical anesthetics, such as Orajel can be used for fast pain relief and are applied directly to the gums.

If for any reason, you’re still not seeing any progress or reduction of swelling and/or irritation in your gums, contact your Idaho Falls orthodontist. We want to help you create the smile you’ve always wanted, with the least amount of pain as possible. You can also speak with your orthodontist about other orthodontic treatments, such as invisible aligners if you have had issues with infected or irritated gums in the past. Swollen gums shouldn’t keep you from getting a beautiful smile. Schedule a free consultation to see what is the best option for you and how Randall Orthodontics can help.

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