The single, most common problem encountered by a majority of patients undergoing orthodontic treatment with clear or metal braces is bleeding from the gums while brushing or eating. Some patients also come with swollen gums that appear as if they have grown over the braces or are protruding from the under/over the braces. By looking at the conditions of the gums, patients often get scared and worried about their health and progress of orthodontic treatment.
Well, one must understand that this is not an unmanageable issue and the most common cause of swollen gums during orthodontic treatment is poor oral hygiene and plaque formation in, around and under the braces and gum line. The other possible cause being the incorrect placement of braces. The other rare causes could be conditions like pregnancy or long term intake of medications like phenytoin, nifedipine, amlodipine, and verapamil; cyclosporine etc.
Since we are talking about the problems faced by people wearing braces, we will address the best solutions to handle gum enlargement caused by poor oral hygiene or incorrect brushing techniques. Everyone has to understand the importance to be diligent about oral hygiene. Once the braces are placed, it does become challenging to clean all the surfaces of the teeth efficiently as accessibility gets limited and the braces themselves act as great surfaces for plaque and food debris to get stuck to. But, all it takes is a bit of skill and hard work to make sure that your gums stay healthy and inflammation free.
A fully equipped orthodontic facility with licensed professionals will always make sure that their patients get a full information package along with some dental aids that will help and guide the patients to maintain their oral hygiene and health once the braces are placed. Your orthodontist will also recommend some extra adjuncts to help clean surfaces that are hard to reach with a regular toothbrush. A floss threader is a great device that helps to manipulate the floss under the wires so that you can continue flossing without any problem. Water piks and jets can be used to daily to flush away harmful microbes and food remnants that get attached or stuck to the braces. Interdental brushes and electric toothbrushes or toothbrushes with built-in timers are other devices that can help you to clean your teeth and braces better. Mouth mirrors are also great to visualize areas that cannot be seen or reached easily.
The technique is the key when it comes to using the various devices at your disposal. Optimal results can be achieved only if the adjunct is used properly. Make sure you ask one of the staff members to demonstrate the correct use of the devices and ask relevant questions. Brush properly for 2-3 minutes, ensuring that you cover all the tooth surfaces. Rinse forcefully and often. Use floss to clean between teeth and below the gumline. Use your index finger to massage your gums in a circular fashion while applying gentle pressure. Do not panic if your gums bleed. Request for a scaling session and ask your orthodontist if you can use an antimicrobial mouthwash. If after all this, your gums still appear inflamed then removal of braces for a brief period of time to allow the gums to heal may be needed. In severe cases, it might be necessary to do a minor surgery and remove the inflamed tissue. Post-surgery, after replacement of braces, oral hygiene should be diligently maintained with follow-up visits to check for the requirement for scaling every 3-4 months or as recommended by your orthodontist.
So do not be distressed if your gums bleed or appear to have overgrown. This condition can be dealt with easily by a good dentist. But, as they say, “prevention is better than cure.” Therefore, make sure you take care of your oral health and hygiene always without fail.