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Can I Get Gingivitis From Braces?

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

You absolutely can get gingivitis while in the middle of braces treatment. In fact, you're at higher risk and more prone to gum disease in general while having braces on.

This article will explain why you're at higher risk for gingivitis with braces and what you can do to prevent it.

kid with braces

What causes braces gingivitis?

The mechanism that causes gingivitis in braces is the exact same way that you get regular gum disease. The only difference is that the wires and brackets in braces make it much more challenging for you to remove plaque on a daily basis. What makes it more difficult is that braces prevent you from using floss and tend to trap food around the wires.

Unable to floss

Due to the positioning of the wires from braces, you're unable to floss your teeth normally. You have to use a special type of floss called a floss threader in order to thread the floss through in order to floss in between. This extra step requires more effort and diligence than normal floss. If you weren't an avid flosser prior to braces, the chances of you using this additional step look pretty slim.

Here is a video showing how to use floss threaders with braces:

Wires are prone to trapping food

Braces treatment requires the use of brackets and wires. This additional hardware creates many opportunities to trap food in between your teeth and along the brackets. Its simply due to the fact that there are a lot more nooks and crannies for plaque and food to get stuck.

If you compare an individual with braces and one without, the one without braces always has an easier time keeping their mouth clean. This is all due to the fact that the brackets and wires create a lot more objects for you to clean. You not only have to brush your teeth but you also have to brush all of the brackets!

Mechanism for causing gingivitis from braces

Gingivitis has always been caused by plaque and tartar build up, that will not change even with braces on. The reason why patients are more prone to gingivitis while undergoing braces treatment is simply due to the braces making it more difficult for them to remove plaque. It requires more time and requires extra cleaning since you have more than just your teeth to brush everyday. You also have to brush the wires and brackets.

The braces create a challenge for plaque removal, which isn't a problem for individuals who are very good with their oral hygiene. The issue arises for those individuals who were never really that good at brushing twice a day and flossing everyday. They are the ones most at risk for developing braces gingivitis. The reason is braces requires more thoroughly brushing and additional time as well. If they weren't avid brushers, they definitely won't be with braces on.

As their braces treatment progresses throughout the months, more and more plaque will accumulate and eventually it'll result in gum inflammation. Once the gums get inflamed and bleed easily, they'll officially be at the first stage of gum disease, gingivitis.

How do you prevent gingivitis braces?

Fortunately, you can prevent gum disease while undergoing braces treatment. The secret is that you need to be extra diligent with your oral hygiene and it also helps if you go in for your dental cleanings on time.

  • Oral hygiene. You must brush for at least 2 minutes twice a day. Also make sure that you use floss threaders to clean underneath of the wires and in between the teeth. After that you should use a mouthwash to get rid of any residual plaque.

  • Regular dental cleanings. You should be on schedule for your teeth cleanings every 6 months. It is especially important now since you have braces because they make it more difficult for you to clean your teeth. Having your dentist remove any tartar or plaque that you're unable to reach will really help you with preventing gum disease.

What would be even better is if you had your teeth cleaned more frequently than the usual 6 months. Since the braces puts you at a higher risk for gingivitis, it makes sense for you to be extra cautious and proactive by getting your teeth cleaned more frequently. We believe that every 4-5 months would be even better than the usual 6. Of course, that is simply a suggestion and you may not need it if you are good with your brushing on a daily basis.

The last tip is to try to minimize snacking in between meals because plaque typically forms right after eating. Since the braces makes it more difficult to brush, you should try not to contribute to the plaque accumulation by snacking more frequently. Minimize the snacks please!

Is it normal to get gingivitis while in braces?

Not everyone gets braces gingivitis but at the same time, braces does not make you immune to gum disease. Therefore the answer would be yes it is normal for those who aren't as diligent with keeping their braces clean, they can end up with gingivitis.

People without braces get gingivitis all the time, so its not as if braces is the sole cause for having gum disease. It certainly does it make it more likely but is not the sole cause.

Does everyone get it?

There are plenty of people who are very diligent with their oral hygiene while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Those individuals gum disease from braces permanent?

also do not get gingivitis with braces.

The people who end up with gum disease while in orthodontic treatment are those who aren't very diligent with their oral hygiene habits. For these individuals, we would encourage them to brush more and also come in more frequently for their dental cleanings. It would be very helpful if they came in every 4 months if they aren't going to be doing their part at home.

Is gum disease from braces permanent?

The good news is that if you do get gingivitis from braces, it usually goes away once you get the braces off. The reason is because the wires and brackets made it more difficult for you to remove plaque and keep your teeth clean but once those are removed, it should return to normal. You can brush and floss normally once you finish straightening your teeth.

However, it may be a little alarming on the day that you do remove the braces because the gums may look extra swollen without the wires covering them. After a thorough dental cleaning by your dentist or hygienist, the gums will recover over the next few days. You should rinse with salt water after every meal to help decrease the inflammation and gum bleeding.

Take away

You may get gingivitis while in the middle of braces because it does make it challenging for you to floss and brush. However, it is very preventable as long as you maintain a very strict oral hygiene routine. It would also help if you went for your dental check up and cleanings more frequently since the braces makes it more difficult for you to remove plaque.

Nonetheless, even if you end up with gingivitis, the condition should improve and go back to normal once you finish treatment! That's the good news.

Just for the future, due to potential for gingivitis from metal braces, that is the reason why we favor Invisalign over it. The entire process is cleaner and healthier for the gums!



David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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