If you are wearing traditional braces (or even clear braces that include brackets and wires), you are well on your way to a straighter, more attractive smile. However, you are probably well aware of the inconveniences that orthodontic treatment can bring. Besides avoiding your favorite candy and popcorn and enduring the social drawbacks of wearing braces, you are also more susceptible to certain oral health conditions. When it comes to dental health risks for braces wearers, gum disease tops the list.
When we eat, a thin film of bacteria and food particles form on our teeth and gums. This is called plaque. If allowed to stay there and accumulate over time, plaque can trigger both decay and periodontal disease. Daily brushing and flossing is all that is needed to remove this sticky substance before it causes harm. However, a mouth full of metal brackets, bands and wires can make teeth cleaning extra difficult.
Warning Signs You Need to Step Up Your Game
Remember that gum disease always needs to be treated. The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. If left untreated, gum disease can advance enough to cause gum recession, bone loss and even tooth loss! Don’t sabotage your time in braces by neglecting to address your gum symptoms.
How do you know if your gums need extra attention? If you are wearing braces, let your dentist know if your gums are:
- Swollen, puffy
- Bleeding during brushing
The above symptoms are the initial signs of gum disease so don’t miss them. Afterwards, you may notice bad breath, gums that are pulling away from the tooth root or wiggly teeth. But don’t worry, a professional dental cleaning while wearing braces can typically reverse the effects of early gum disease. In addition, you may need to alter your hygiene tools and change up your techniques to ensure you’re doing a proper cleaning job. You can purchase an interproximal brush that can maneuver around the braces better than a regular brush. For flossing, consider a floss threader designed for orthodontic patients or a water flosser to safeguard against lingering plaque.
If you are wearing clear or metal braces and notice that your gums are more red or swollen than normal, contact Park South Dentistry sooner rather than later. We offer a full menu of gum disease therapies as well as preventive services for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. Remember that seeing your orthodontist is NOT a substitute for seeing your dentist!