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Swollen Gums With Braces: Normal or Cause for Concern?

By October 7, 2021September 22nd, 2023Blog, Orthodontics

swollen gums with braces

Why Are My Gums Swollen, Red or Inflamed with Braces?

Your braces treatment is ticking along and so far, so good. At least, you thought everything was going well until you suddenly find yourself with red, inflamed and swollen gums. Now you’re probably wondering whether swollen gums with braces is normal and what you can do to fix it. Well, Dr. James Scramstad and the Straight Smiles team are here to help.

As orthodontic specialists in Kelowna, we’ve had plenty of experience in treating swollen gums. After all, most of the time, irritated gums are a very common (yet unwanted) side effect of having braces. But in some cases, swollen gums with braces could be a sign of a more serious issue. In this post, we’ll share:

  • What causes irritated or swollen gums with braces
  • How to fix puffy gums with braces
  • Tips to avoid gum disease with braces

What causes irritated or swollen gums with braces?

If you’re experiencing swollen, puffy or red gums with braces, we feel for you. Just because it’s a common symptom, that doesn’t make it a fun one. Here are a few things that could be causing gum irritation with braces:

Improper Brushing & Flossing

You know how your dentist always loves to remind you how often to brush and floss your teeth? Well, as a dentist practicing orthodontics only, Dr. James Scramstad feels even more strongly about proper oral hygiene! That’s right: it’s more important than ever to stay on top of brushing and flossing with braces, because it’s so much easier for food particles to get caught beneath your hardware. This can lead to harmful plaque and bacteria build-up, which can cause sore, inflamed and swollen gums. That’s why we urge our Kelowna orthodontic patients to brush their teeth after every meal and snack, and floss at least once a day. Your gums will thank you!

Irritation from Braces

When you first get your braces put on, your mouth has some adjusting to do. You’ve got these fancy new brackets and wires on your teeth and your gums simply just aren’t used to them. It doesn’t take much for braces to irritate the soft tissues on the inside of your mouth — your gums, lips and cheeks — but eventually, they will toughen up. And if your swollen gums don’t resolve after a few weeks, that’s when you know there’s an underlying concern.

Moving Teeth

The whole point of braces is to move your teeth into more optimal alignment to create a beautiful, healthy smile. But as your teeth migrate to their new positions, your gums may become irritated. Your braces apply steady, constant pressure to your teeth throughout your treatment, so it’s totally normal to have swollen gums, especially in the early days and after adjustments from your Kelowna orthodontic specialist.

Gum Disease

This is when swollen gums during braces treatment becomes a cause for concern. Like we mentioned, food particles often get trapped in and behind your braces, creating a breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria and plaque. Gum disease, like gingivitis, is easily avoidable with proper brushing and flossing.

How to Fix Swollen Gums with Braces?

The good news is that treating swollen, inflamed or red gums with braces is very simple! By following proper oral hygiene rules, you can not only keep gum disease at bay during orthodontic treatment — you’ll be setting yourself up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Here’s what to do if you have swollen gums during braces treatment:

Brush after all meals and snacks

Yep, we meant it when we said you need to brush your teeth with braces after every single snack and meal. We know it sounds like a lot, but it truly is one of the most effective ways to keep your gums and teeth healthy during treatment. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush along the inflamed gum tissue (and all tooth surfaces) to remove food particles.

Floss regularly

Daily flossing is a non-negotiable during braces treatment, especially if you want to relieve swollen gums. Use orthodontic floss or a floss threader to make it easier to access hard-to-reach areas.

Use a saltwater rinse

A quick and easy trick to reduce gum inflammation with braces is to rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution. Simply mix half a teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water, then swish it around your mouth and spit it out. Repeat as needed to soothe irritated gums from braces.

Try orthodontic wax

 In time, you won’t even notice your braces. But until the inside of your mouth gets used to your hardware, try putting small pieces of orthodontic wax over the brackets that are causing irritation.

How to Avoid Gum Disease with Braces?

While the above tips will help you deal with swollen gums in the here and now, our number one goal at Straight Smiles is to help you establish healthy teeth habits for life. We should all be taking steps to avoid gum disease at all times, not just during braces treatment. Here’s how:

  • Brush and floss: Yeah, we’re really driving this one home. Brush twice daily (or after every meal and snack with braces) and floss at least once to maintain healthy gums and teeth.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride is crucial to the development and maintenance of strong, healthy teeth. Make sure your toothpaste is fluoridated, especially if there isn’t fluoride in the water where you live!
  • Build a braces to-go kit: If you’ve got braces, it can be tricky to stay on top of all that brushing, so create a little to-go kit (complete with toothbrush, toothpaste and floss) so you’ve always got everything you need on hand.
  • Try a waterpik, especially if you have braces: A waterpik doesn’t replace regular flossing, but it’s an excellent complement to your braces oral health regime. It’s a powerful tool for removing food particles and build-up, leaving you with healthy gums and teeth.
  • Choose a healthy diet: It’s no secret that what you eat has a direct impact on the health of your teeth. Limit sugary or processed foods and drinks, and up your intake of whole foods like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
  • Visit your dentist regularly: Continue to see your general dentist every six months, even during orthodontic treatment. They’ll help keep an eye on your gums to make sure your teeth are in top shape.

Wondering if your swollen gums are the beginning signs of gum disease with braces? Ready to start your own orthodontic treatment? Contact Straight Smiles today!

Dr. James Scramstad

Author Dr. James Scramstad

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