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Gingivitis and braces

September 25, 2022
Gingivitis and braces

Orthodontic treatment offers a suite of benefits beyond just delivering a straight and memorable smile.

Braces also work to correct a bad bite and align your jaw. But the wires and brackets do make it harder to brush and floss your teeth effectively, potentially leading to a build-up of plaque and a mild gum disease known as gingivitis.

“Gingivitis” is a technical term for inflammation in the gingiva – the section of gum closest to your teeth – leading to puffy and swollen gums which are prone to bleeding. The good news? Gingivitis is highly treatable and very preventable! Here’s what you need to know about gingivitis and braces.

What is gingivitis? 

Gingivitis is a common form of gum disease. Gingivitis is a mild disease, but it can progress to periodontitis, which is more serious and destructive, if it is left untreated. It commonly occurs as a result of poor or inadequate brushing and flossing, which may occur if you have braces. 

What is the impact of gingivitis? 

Initially, gingivitis can cause your gums to swell and bleed. Gingivitis can lead to a more serious condition called periodontitis (i.e. periodontal disease) if left untreated. Over a long period of time, periodontitis can result in tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss, as this disease destroys the gums, soft tissue and bone that keep your teeth in place. 

Periodontitis is more common in adults; however, some children can also experience juvenile periodontitis in certain situations. This is why is it so important to see a real-life orthodontist, as direct-to-consumer products generally do not have the safe-guards of seeing a real-life practitioner. 

Is gingivitis common with braces?

Truthfully? Yes. Gum disease is common in the general population, with around 80% of American adults suffering from it in some form or another. But gingivitis is especially common with braces.

Braces exert a subtle yet steady pressure in order to gradually straighten your teeth. However, the extra “hardware” makes it harder to clean your teeth and gums effectively. And it takes more time to do it well. This is why gingivitis is so common in patients with braces, as the bacterial plaque is not cleaned off the teeth and the gums respond to the plaque by becoming inflamed.


How can I prevent gingivitis while having braces? 

Mild and transient gingivitis is very common while undergoing braces treatment. If you’ve ever wondered how you can prevent gingivitis with braces, then read on to find the answers to some of your most common braces-related questions. 

How often should I brush with braces? 

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is even more important with braces. To ensure sticky plaque doesn’t harden into difficult-to-remove tartar, it’s imperative your brush your teeth three times a day – after meals and before bed. Snuck in morning or afternoon tea? Then you’ll want to sneak in an extra brushing session, too! Trapped food particles may also cause tooth decay. 


When and how often should I floss with braces? 

It’s best to floss before sleeping so you go to bed with clean teeth. At the very least, just ensure you floss at least once a day. A morning floss is better than no flossing at all

Do I need regular professional cleaning? 

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is most important, but many patients will need a thorough “spring clean” (a professional tooth clean with their general dentist) to keep gingivitis and other types of gum disease at bay. Only a professional can effectively remove hardened plaque (tartar). Booking in for a regular cleaning session is one of the best ways to prevent serious gum problems. 

Keen to book an appointment with a specialist orthodontist? Use our handy Finder tool to find one near you.

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