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

Even the most diligent of patients tend to have to make a few adjustments to their oral hygiene routine with braces. Today, our Innovative Orthodontics team will answer the question: How can I prevent tooth and gum issues while wearing braces?

How Braces Work

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the main mechanics of braces as orthodontic devices. This applies specifically to traditional metal and clear braces.

  • Brackets are square-shaped pieces that are adhered to the front of each tooth. These serve as anchors for wires.
  • Wires connect the brackets, and apply pressure to the teeth as needed for alignment. They are periodically tightened and adjusted throughout treatment.
  • Elastics can provide additional force to specific teeth, which are attached to the brackets. Bands are also sometimes used for a similar purpose, as well as for providing additional support to the entire system. 

Potential Issues: Teeth

There are some problems you can encounter with your teeth that apply specifically to having braces. 

  • Decalcification: This refers to lost minerals from the enamel, which can create white spots or patches on the tooth. This can be especially problematic when plaque forms around the brackets and isn’t removed properly. This often only becomes visible after the braces are removed.
  • Tooth Decay: Braces can make it more challenging to clean the teeth thoroughly, increasing the risk of decay.
  • Root Resorption: In some cases, the roots of the teeth may shorten as a result of the pressure applied during treatment. While mild root resorption isn’t concerning and is relatively common, severe cases can cause tooth instability.
  • Enamel Erosion: Excessive force or pressure on the teeth from the braces can potentially lead to enamel erosion, especially if the brackets are not properly aligned or if there are bite issues.

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

How to Help

Most of these can be prevented or remedied with additional care and attention.

  • Excellent Oral Hygiene: This really does tend to be the key to most problems. Brushing thoroughly after every single meal and snack, as well as before bedtime. Use fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean around brackets and wires. 
  • Fluoride is Key: The reason we encourage the use of this ingredient is because it can help to strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay. 
  • Attend Regular Dental Appointments: We work hand in hand with dentists. It’s crucial to maintain your regularly scheduled check-ups since they can offer additional monitoring of your oral health, provide professional cleanings, and address issues promptly, especially if we are unable to do so in an ideal time frame for whatever reason.
  • Follow Dietary Guidelines: Limit consumption of sugary and acidic foods and beverages. Also, avoid hard, sticky, or crunchy foods that can damage braces or get stuck between your brackets.
  • Orthodontic Wax: This substance can be used to help reduce discomfort caused by sharp edges of protruding wires or brackets. Exposed edges can create abrasions on teeth and gums.
  • Mouthguards: If you participate in sports or other contact activities where there’s a risk of facial injury, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth, braces, and soft tissues from damage. 

At the end of the day, the biggest tip we have is to listen to the instructions provided by Dr. Clayton and Dr. Waters. Trust the experts in your life for guidance. 

Potential Issues: Gums

People sometimes forget that gums are a vulnerable part of their oral health. Taking care of teeth and gums is a two-way street. Here are some of the potential problems you can encounter with your gums while wearing braces.

  • Gingivitis: This condition refers to inflammation of the gums caused by plaque accumulation along the gumline. Symptoms include red, swollen, or bleeding gums.
  • Gum Recession: Gum tissue can pull away from the teeth to expose the roots. Braces can impact this if excessive force is applied during orthodontic treatment or if there is inadequate gum tissue support around the teeth.
  • Gum Irritation: Abrasion can occur on the gums, lips, and cheeks when in contact with your appliance. This can cause ulcers, spots, or cuts on the tissue.

Many of these issues have the same solutions as used for conditions involving teeth. 

  • You should brush your gums as well as your teeth and focus on flossing. 
  • Use antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce plaque and bacteria in the mouth. 
  • Communicate with your doctor and our team if you’re experiencing persistent problems or problems you don’t know how to combat. 

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

Solutions You Can Trust

Getting used to braces always has a sharp learning curve—but we’re here to help you each step of the way! If you’re looking into orthodontic treatment, our team would be honored to help get you started. You can reach our three Georgia offices at the following numbers to schedule a free consultation: Savannah (912-800-0294), Rincon (912-800-0267), and Pooler (912-800-0541).