How Can I Prevent Tooth and Gum Issues While Wearing Braces?

Even individuals who maintain diligent oral hygiene may need to adapt their routine when wearing braces. Today, our team at Thacker Orthodontics will tackle this question: How can I prevent tooth and gum issues while wearing braces?

How Braces Work

Understanding the basic mechanics of braces is crucial when considering orthodontic treatment. This applies specifically to traditional metal and clear braces.

  1. Brackets are square-shaped attachments bonded to the front of each tooth, serving as anchors for wires.
  2. Wires connect the brackets and apply pressure to the teeth to guide them into alignment. These wires are adjusted regularly throughout the treatment process.
  3. Elastics can be attached to the brackets to provide additional force to specific teeth.
  4. Bands are used similarly to elastics, offering extra support to the entire orthodontic system.

Potential Issues: Teeth

Braces can indeed lead to various oral health issues, often associated with the different components of the braces themselves.

  1. Decalcification: This occurs when minerals are depleted from the enamel, resulting in the appearance of white spots or patches on the tooth surface. It becomes a concern when plaque accumulates around the brackets and is not effectively removed. Typically, these white spots become noticeable only after the braces are removed.
  2. Tooth Decay:  Braces can present challenges in maintaining thorough teeth cleaning, thus heightening the risk of decay.
  3. Root Resorption: Pressure applied during treatment may cause the roots of teeth to shorten. While mild root resorption is common and generally not concerning, severe cases can lead to tooth instability.
  4. Enamel Erosion: Excessive force or pressure exerted by braces can potentially lead to enamel erosion, especially if brackets are misaligned or if there are problems with the bite.
How Can I Prevent Tooth and Gum Issues While Wearing Braces?

How to Help

The positive news is that many of these issues can be addressed, though prevention is always the preferred approach.

  1. Excellent Oral Hygiene: This is vital for preventing most problems. Brush your teeth diligently after every meal and snack, as well as before bedtime. Utilize fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush to thoroughly clean around brackets and wires.
  2. Fluoride is Essential: We emphasize the use of fluoride because it strengthens enamel and helps prevent tooth decay.
  3. Attend Regular Dental Appointments:  Maintaining close collaboration with dentists is essential. It’s imperative to keep your scheduled dental appointments, as they provide additional oversight of your oral health, offer professional cleanings, and promptly address any emerging issues.
  4. Follow Dietary Guidelines: Restrict your consumption of sugary and acidic foods and beverages. Additionally, avoid hard, sticky, or crunchy foods that can damage braces or become lodged between brackets.
  5. Orthodontic Wax: This can alleviate discomfort caused by sharp edges of protruding wires or brackets, which might otherwise irritate teeth and gums.
  6. Mouthguards: If you participate in sports or other activities involving potential facial injuries, wearing a mouthguard is crucial to protect your teeth, braces, and soft tissues from harm.

Ultimately, the most important advice we can offer is to heed the guidance provided by Dr. MaryEvan and Dr. Jim.

Potential Issues: Gums

It’s common for individuals to overlook the vulnerability of their gums in terms of oral health. Maintaining the well-being of both teeth and gums is a collaborative effort. Here are several potential issues you may encounter with your gums while wearing braces:

  1. Gingivitis: This condition entails gum inflammation caused by plaque buildup along the gumline. Symptoms often include redness, swelling, or bleeding gums.
  2. Gum Recession: The gum tissue might recede, exposing the tooth roots. Factors such as excessive force during orthodontic treatment or inadequate gum support around the teeth can contribute to this condition.
  3. Gum Irritation: Contact with braces can cause abrasions on the gums, lips, and cheeks, potentially resulting in ulcers, sore spots, or cuts on the oral tissue.

A lot of these issues are helped by the same techniques used to remedy issues with teeth:

  • Make sure to brush both your teeth and gums, giving attention to flossing as well.
  • Include antimicrobial mouthwash in your daily routine to reduce plaque and bacteria in your mouth.
  • If you experience ongoing problems or are uncertain how to handle them, feel free to contact your doctor and our team for assistance.
How Can I Prevent Tooth and Gum Issues While Wearing Braces?

Answers You Can Trust

Adjusting to braces may pose initial challenges, but we’re committed to guiding you through every step of the process. If you’re contemplating orthodontic treatment, we’re here and eager to help. You can sign up for a free consultation by reaching out to our Cincinnati (513-854-0339) or Hillsboro (937-583-6482) offices.