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Why Are My Braces Causing Swollen Gums?

Author: mcymer Posted: July 8th, 2021 Category:

If you’ve recently gotten braces, it’s probably too soon to see any significant changes in your jaw’s alignment. However, you may have noticed that your braces are already causing swollen gums.

If you have crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw, your dentist might suggest getting braces from an orthodontist. Though these wire-based dental appliances are designed to align and strengthen your teeth over time, they can also result in swollen or painful gums.

Why Are My Braces Causing Gum Inflammation?

Your gums might swell due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, puberty, your menstrual cycle, or menopause. Malnutrition, birth control, burns, and incorrect brushing or flossing techniques can also cause inflammation in the gums. However, if you have braces, your dental appliances may be responsible for any gum swelling, as they can cause:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Steady and constant pressure
  • Teeth movement
  • Gingival hyperplasia
  • An allergic reaction

Poor Oral Hygiene

Braces can contribute to poor oral hygiene, leading to gingivitis and gum inflammation. In severe cases, your gums may bleed or even appear to grow over your braces!

Even if you’re usually diligent with your oral hygiene habits, getting braces can put a spoke in your wheel. Food particles will hide more easily between your teeth when you have braces, enabling more plaque and bacteria to form in those difficult-to-reach areas. You may notice plaque buildup beneath the wire, around the brackets, and between your teeth.

While everyone with braces should be vigilant about their oral hygiene, pregnant women should be extra attentive when it comes to brushing and flossing due to a higher risk of gingivitis from hormonal changes. So, if you’re expecting and decide to get braces, talk to your dentist or orthodontist about preventing pregnancy gingivitis.

Constant Pressure

As your braces start to shift your teeth, your gums may swell in response to the steady and constant pressure from the braces. Your braces will have to be tightened or adjusted to guide your teeth into their new position. The exact time between appointments varies from person to person, ranging from a few weeks to around a month, and you may develop swollen or sore gums for a few days following any braces adjustments.

Teeth Movement

As your braces’ wires and bands shift your teeth, tiny gaps between your teeth may appear. This is completely natural but can lead to trapped food and plaque, bacteria growth, and gum inflammation.

Gingival Hyperplasia

Gingival hyperplasia, also known as hypertrophy or gingival enlargement, occurs when your gum tissues grow abnormally. Gingival hyperplasia is often triggered by plaque accumulation or certain medications, though gum irritation caused by an errant wire is another common culprit behind gingival hyperplasia.

While it’s true that gingival hyperplasia will often subside within six to eight weeks after your braces are removed, it’s still essential to treat this condition while your braces are still on. If left untreated, you’ll have difficulty brushing and flossing your teeth, which can lead to decay, white stains, and other problems down the road. You may even need to surgically remove your overgrown gums if they become fibrotic!

Allergic Reactions

While braces are made from hypoallergenic materials, individuals who are particularly hypersensitive to metal may experience gum inflammation, particularly in areas where their gum tissue is close to their braces. Fortunately, most people — even those more sensitive to metals — don’t experience allergic reactions in response to the wires and brackets in braces. 

Having swollen gums can be frustrating and painful. Fortunately, there are several quick and easy ways to treat swollen gums from home, such as:

  • Rinsing with warm salt water: Rinsing with warm salt water a few times a day can help soothe inflamed gums.
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs: NSAIDS (or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can reduce swelling and pain in your gums with few side effects.
  • Abstaining from eating hard and chewy foods: If your gums feel swollen, try to avoid hard-to-chew foods like hard candy, gummies, and raw carrots.
  • Brushing and flossing: As with most dental problems, brushing and flossing can go a long way toward treating swollen gums and even avoiding them in the first place. Carefully brush and floss at least twice a day to remove plaque and food particles and prevent gingivitis and swollen gums. Brushing in small circular motions with an electric toothbrush and using an orthodontic floss threader or a proxy brush can ensure thorough cleaning around your brackets and beneath your wires.

How Can My Dentist Help Prevent Or Treat My Swollen Gums?

Thoroughly brushing and flossing at least twice a day is the best way to prevent and treat swollen gums. However, sometimes brushing and flossing isn’t enough to combat swollen gums, especially when braces are involved.

If you happen to be allergic to your braces, your orthodontist may recommend using removable clear aligners or ceramic appliances. Pain from brackets or wires tearing your gingival tissue can be relieved with adjustments or even soft wax placed over the wire or bracket in question.

When you have your braces on, try scheduling dental cleanings more frequently. A dental professional will remove plaque more effectively from many nooks and crannies — they can even use a scaler to remove tartar!

When Should I See A Professional?

When you first get your braces, it’s normal for your gums to swell for up to a week. After each tightening, you may experience swelling again — though for a shorter period of one to three days. If swelling lasts for an extended period, schedule an appointment to see your dentist or orthodontist.

If you live near Oklahoma City, visit Espire’s location in Oklahoma City. Equipped with cutting-edge technology and staffed with experienced professionals, Espire’s Oklahoma City location offers patients high-quality dental care. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.