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Ginigivitis/Gum Disease and Braces: The Importance of Dental Hygiene

By Kellyn Hodges on September 09, 2014

A teen with braces smiles while outsideDr. Kellyn Hodges has helped countless patients throughout the greater Philadelphia area get the straight and healthy smiles that they have always wanted. Many times this can be done through the use of braces, a solid staple of orthdontic care for decades. Thanks to braces, patients are able to have the straight, beautiful smiles that they have always wanted.

We receive many questions from patients about how getting braces may affect overall dental health. The question of gum disease comes up often, so we'd like to cover this issue in brief right now.

About Gum Disease

Gum disease is the infection of the gums caused by the bacteria that naturally occurs in the mouth. There are three stages of gum disease, in order of severity:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Advanced periodontitis

The bacterial infection of the gum tissue tends to be the result of poor dental hygiene, though smoking, diabetes, and other factors can make gum disease more likely.

Do braces make gum disease more likely?

Not necessarily. Let's qualify this statement.

The brackets and wires of the braces will not cause gum disease per se. However, patients may find it more difficult to floss, and by neglecting to floss and being less diligent while brushing their teeth, the chances of gum disease can increase.

Signs and Symptoms of Gingivitis

The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, and if the issue can be identified and treated as soon as possible, that is ideal. The most common signs and symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Discolored gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Irritated gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath

If you should notice any of these side effects, it's important that you bring them to the attention of your dentist in order for these matters to be addressed as soon as possible.

Brushing and Flossing Are Key for Prevention of Gum Disease

One of the keys to preventing gum disease is diligent dental hygiene. This is why patients needs to brush and floss at least twice a day when they have braces in place.

When brushing your teeth with braces, be sure to be gentle and thorough. You'll want to angle your toothbrush upward when under the brackets and downward when over the brackets in order to clean the tooth surface as well as all of the surface area of the braces themselves. This makes sure that all food particles and any traces of plaque are scrubbed off.

When flossing, be sure to use your threaders in order to access those hard-to-access spaces between the teeth. While it may seem inconvenient, you'll be doing yourself a favor by taking great care of your teeth and preventing decay and infection.

Regular Checkups Will Help with Identifying Gum Disease

In addition to regular brushing and flossing, the visits you have with your dentist and orthodontist will be key for addressing any issues with your teeth and gums while you have braces. Your dentist will be able to identify potential signs of gum disease as they emerge and treat them promptly.

Treatment Options for Gum Disease

If you develop gum disease, the ideal option for treatment will involve the use of antiseptic rinses and/or antibiotics to bring the bacterial infection under control. Caught early enough, these minimally invasive treatments will be all that is necessary. Prevention is more ideal, obviously, so be sure to practice good oral hygiene when you have braces.

Learn More About Orthodontic Care

For more information about your options for achieving optimal dental health, be sure to contact our orthodontic dental care center today. Dr. Hodges and the entire orthodontic care team here look forward to your visit and helping you achieve optimal results with regard to your dental health and wellness.

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We love Kellyn Hodges! She listens to her patients and provides excellent care! Her staff is very friendly and helpful as well! Tara F.

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