Receding Gums & Braces: Risks & Treatment Options

Are you experiencing gum recession and wearing braces at the same time? You may be wondering why your gums are receding and whether your braces are contributing to the problem. Gum recession is a gradual process that exposes the teeth roots, making them more sensitive to hot, cold, and sweet foods. In this blog post, we will explore the causes of gum recession, discuss how braces can contribute to receding gums, and provide preventative measures and possible treatments.

What is the Gum Recession?

Gum recession, or receding gums or gingival recession, is the process in which your gums move away from the teeth, leaving the tooth root exposed. Gum recession can lead to tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet foods and other serious dental issues, such as root caries and tooth loss. It is usually a sign of periodontal disease, or gum disease, an infection of the gum tissues and bone structures supporting the teeth.

Receding gums occurs gradually over time but may be accelerated by poor oral hygiene, wearing braces, or improper methods of tooth cleaning such as aggressive tooth brushing or using a hard-bristled toothbrush.

One of the critical aspects of periodontal disease that contributes to gum recession is the loss of alveolar bone height, which compromises the stability of the teeth and further exacerbates the recession of the gums.

Recognizing the early signs of gum disease is crucial for preventing gum recession. These signs include red, swollen, or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, infected gum pockets, and loose teeth. Early intervention and proper oral care can help manage gum disease and maintain healthy gum and bone structures.

Risk Factors for Gum Recession

Certain factors can increase the risk of gum recession, including:

  • Poor oral hygiene habits
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Crooked teeth
  • Orthodontic treatment, such as braces
  • Aggressive tooth brushing or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy or menopause
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune diseases

Can Braces Cause Receding Gums?

Yes, braces can contribute to receding gums in a few ways. Firstly, the wires and brackets of braces apply pressure on misaligned teeth to move them into a desired position, which can cause the jaw bone supporting the teeth to remodel. However, this pressure can cause jaw bone loss and affect the gum tissue, causing them to recede.

Secondly, braces can make it difficult for you to properly brush and floss your teeth, leading to an accumulation of plaque on the teeth and gums that can contribute to periodontal disease, causing alveolar bone loss and gum recession.

Braces Can Prevent Receding Gums

While braces can contribute to receding gums, they also help prevent it. Braces can help treat misaligned teeth and reduce crowding, making it easier to brush and floss your teeth properly. This, in turn, helps maintain good oral health by reducing the accumulation of plaque.

Orthodontic treatment can also reduce teeth grinding by ensuring your teeth fit properly together. This can reduce the force on your teeth and gums, helping to prevent receding gums.

How Do I Know If I Have Receding Gums While Wearing Braces?

The most common symptom of receding gums is sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet foods. You may also notice a change in the color of your teeth as the root becomes exposed, making them appear longer than usual. Also, you may notice:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
  • Receding gum line
  • Increased gaps between teeth

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms while wearing braces, contact your orthodontist as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. Minor receding gums can be easily treated.

Can Receding Gums Grow Back?

Unfortunately, once gum tissue has receded, it cannot naturally regenerate. The primary goal of treatment is to halt the progression of recession and prevent further loss of alveolar bone.

For mild gum recession, your dentist may recommend non-surgical treatments such as scaling and root planing. These procedures help to clean the tooth roots and remove plaque and tartar buildup, which can reduce inflammation and slow further recession.

In cases where gum recession is accompanied by significant bone loss, non-surgical methods may not be sufficient. For severe gum recession, your dentist might suggest surgical treatments to restore the lost gum tissue. These procedures, such as gum grafting, aim to cover exposed roots, reduce tooth sensitivity, and improve the overall aesthetics of your smile.

Treatment Options

Your orthodontist will be able to assess the severity of your condition and develop a treatment plan to treat gum disease and help improve your gum health. Treatment typically involves:

  • Improving oral hygiene: Brushing and flossing twice daily and using an antibacterial mouthwash can help reduce plaque buildup on your teeth and gums. It is also important to adjust your brushing and flossing technique, if necessary, to better fit around the braces.
  • Scaling and root planing: In mild gum recession, your orthodontist may recommend scaling and root planing. It is a deep cleaning procedure to remove plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth and gums and smooth out rough spots on the root surfaces. Some people may experience loose teeth after deep cleaning due to the loss of bone supporting the affected teeth.
  • Orthodontic treatment adjustments: Your orthodontist may need to make adjustments to the wires or brackets of your braces to reduce the amount of pressure placed on your gums.
  • Medication: Your orthodontist may recommend that you take antibiotics or other medications to help reduce inflammation and infection in the gums.
  • Gum recession surgery: For severe bone loss and gum recession, surgery may be necessary to correct the receding gums and prevent further damage, such as bone and gum grafts. Gum graft surgery involves taking a small piece of tissue from the roof of your mouth (or other areas) and placing it over the receded area to cover the exposed root.

Tips for Preventing Receding Gums While Wearing Braces

To prevent receding gums while wearing braces, maintain good oral hygiene and practice the following tips:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene practices: Brush and floss twice daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush, dental floss, and an antibacterial mouthwash.
  • Adjust your brushing and flossing technique: Make sure you are using a gentle yet thorough motion when cleaning around your braces to avoid irritating the gums.
  • Don’t delay your orthodontic treatment appointments: Your orthodontist should adjust the wires and brackets of your braces as needed to relieve any pressure on the gums.
  • Consider using an interdental brush: This small, cone-shaped brush is designed to get into the tight spaces between your teeth and braces to clean out food particles or plaque buildup.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking can lead to dry mouth, which increases the risk of gum recession.
  • Visit your dentist regularly: Visit your dentist for regular dental checkups and professional dental cleanings.

By following these oral care tips, you can help maintain oral health and reduce your risk of developing receding gums while wearing braces.

Receding Gums Braces – Conclusion

While braces can help you achieve straight teeth and a beautiful smile, they can also potentially contribute to receding gums. The pressure exerted by the wires and brackets to move teeth into the desired position can cause the gum tissue to recede.

Additionally, the presence of braces makes it challenging to brush and floss your teeth properly, leading to plaque buildup and increasing the risk of periodontal disease and other oral health issues.

If you notice that your teeth appear longer than normal or your gums are red and swollen, contact your orthodontist. They can perform an examination to determine the cause of the issue and provide you with appropriate treatment options. The treatment for receding gums depends on the severity of the condition and may include scaling and root planing, antibiotics, or gum recession surgery in severe cases.

To reduce the risk of receding gums while wearing braces, it is essential to practice good dental health habits. This includes regular cleaning, adjusting your brushing and flossing techniques to avoid aggressive brushing, and visiting your orthodontist for regular checkups and adjustments. Maintaining these practices will help ensure a healthy smile and prevent loss of bone and other dental health complications associated with gum recession.

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