Getting braces can feel like a big change in your day-to-day lifestyle.
At first, it takes a while to get used to the sensation of having brackets attached to your teeth, and you’ll also need to get into the habit of taking really good care of your braces to keep them clean and maintain your oral health.
In some cases, patients who get braces may notice that they have swollen or red gums. Here’s a little more about why that might happen and what you can do about it.
Why do braces sometimes cause swollen gums?
Getting braces takes an adjustment, and patients will have to be extra careful to properly clean their teeth and braces. Your orthodontist will give you instructions on how to ensure your teeth and gums are still getting the attention they need each day.
However, because braces can make it tougher to properly clean each tooth around the metal brackets, it can lead to a build-up of plaque on the teeth. When this occurs, it can lead to inflammation and redness of the gums as bacteria causes an infection.
You may even notice some bleeding around the gums when you brush your teeth or floss.
Redness, swelling, and bleeding are all symptoms of gum disease. Gum disease occurs due to poor oral hygiene, and indicates gingivitis (the early stages of gum disease).
It’s also important to know that just because having braces can make it tougher to brush and floss properly leading to gum irritation, it’s also possible to experience this issue without braces.
What happens if you have swollen gums even without braces?
Gum disease is actually a surprisingly common dental problem, even for those without braces.
Much like when you have braces, gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene. To avoid it, you must carefully brush and floss each day, as these actions help to avoid the build-up of plaque on the teeth. It’s this plaque that causes the bacterial infection in the gums, which leads to swelling, redness, and bleeding.
In these early stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis, which is a relatively minor disease that’s easy to manage and solve (more on this shortly). If left untreated, gum disease can progress and become periodontitis, which is a much more serious issue as it can only be managed – not fixed – and can lead to wiggly teeth, lost teeth, and it can even damage the underlying jawbone.
What to do if your gums are swollen
If you notice your gums are swollen, red, or bleeding, whether or not you have braces, it’s important to visit a dentist or hygienist for a check-up.
A dental professional will be able to determine the cause and give your teeth a proper cleaning to remove the built-up plaque and tartar on your teeth. They will also provide instructions to be more careful about how often you clean and floss, and tips for techniques to ensure you don’t miss any hard-to-reach places in future.
You can also reduce your sugar intake, as sugar can help the bacteria in plaque to thrive.
Note that your orthodontist will also be on the lookout for swollen gums and other signs of gum disease during each appointment, so they will also be able to offer a plan of action to maintain your oral health should they spot any symptoms.
If your orthodontist ever reminds you to clean better – longer or more frequently, they are not doing it to be mean but to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy as they possibly can be!
If you have any questions about swollen gums and braces, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Thorndon Ortho.