A great smile is always in style! Wearing braces is the easiest way to straighten and align your teeth so you can smile with confidence at all times. Other than the aesthetic benefits, braces help you improve your oral health, which directly contributes to being healthier overall. However, there are several concerns when it comes to wearing braces, including the potential for gum recession. So, is this a legitimate concern?
There is a link between using braces and gum recession because braces exert pressure on teeth, and that can cause the gums to recede some. However, braces can also help prevent gum recession since having misaligned teeth is another cause. The benefits of braces usually far outweigh any risks.
Let’s have a look at what gum recession is, what causes it, how properly placed and cared for braces can contribute to preventing gum recession, and also whether there’s a possibility to reverse and rebuild gums once they’ve already receded.
What Is Gum Recession?
Gum recession, or gingival recession, is when the roots of your teeth are exposed due to the loss or retraction of the gum tissue that covers them. It is a condition that is naturally more common among adults, but it can start occurring at a young age due to hereditary conditions or poor oral hygiene habits.
Other than the visible receding of the gums, some of the symptoms of this condition include hypersensitivity of teeth, loose teeth, teeth starting to appear longer, and a change in the color of teeth due to the difference of color between the tooth enamel and the root.
Gum recession is a gradual process that often goes unnoticed by many. That’s why it’s important to get professional checkups of your teeth at least twice a year so you can get treated or change your habits before gum recession develops too far.
What Can Cause Gum Recession?
The most common cause of severe gum recession is periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. There are several factors that increase the risk of gum disease, such as smoking, diabetes, and not having regular dental care.
Gum disease is caused by harmful bacteria infecting the tissue around the teeth causing inflammation that eventually leads to gum recession, bone loss, and tooth loss — if left untreated.
Aggressive brushing using toothbrushes with hard bristles is also known as a reason for gum recession. If you use excessive force on your gums when you brush, it causes physical wear and leads to inflammation of the gums, which then leads to recession.
Since many people use their right hand to brush, they tend to see more gum recession on the left side of their mouth.
Here are some other habits and conditions which increase the risk of receding gums:
- Improper flossing techniques
- Digging nails or pens/pencils into the gum
- Lack of dietary vitamin C (which can be fixed by taking a simple daily vitamin c supplement like this one (on Amazon)
- Lip or tongue piercings
How Can Braces Help Prevent Gum Recession?
While braces may not be able to reverse gum recession, they contribute to preventing it by reducing several risk factors that can cause your gums to recede. They also make minor cosmetic improvements if your gums have already receded in minimal amounts.
For example, if a misaligned tooth has a minor recession, getting it back in line can improve the appearance of the recession.
Moreover, when you straighten your teeth with the help of braces, it’s easier for you to clean them. You can reach all the surfaces of straight teeth to brush and floss them properly, which reduces the risk of gum recession and many gum-related diseases.
Dental malocclusions such as severe overbites can also lead to tooth decay and gum recession. THese conditions can be improved by wearing proper braces.
It is, however, important to understand that braces are only effective as a preventive measure when it comes to gum recession. If you have a severe condition of gum recession, you need to see a periodontist or a dental specialist in gums for immediate treatment.
How Can I Prevent Gum Recession if I Have Braces?
The prevention of all oral diseases, including gum recession, comes down to maintaining proper dental hygiene.
If you have braces on, you need to be extra careful about using the right tools, techniques, and products to maintain your oral hygiene, since braces increase the risk of irritations and inflammation of the gums, which can lead to gum recession.
- Use a soft bristle toothbrush (on Amazon) to brush after every meal or snack
- Use an electric toothbrush with a built-in pressure sensor (on Amazon) to ensure that you aren’t brushing too hard
- Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle when you brush, and carefully brush at the gum line
- Use circular strokes as opposed to up and down or side to side strokes when you brush your teeth
- Always brush on top of and below the brackets of your braces
- Floss regularly using a gentle rubbing motion
- When the floss reaches your gum line, curve it against your tooth so it won’t damage your gums
- Use a mouthwash with an antimicrobial component
- Visit your dentist regularly to check for any developing conditions early on
What Not to Do
- Avoid eating sugary food that can get stuck in your braces, such as all kinds of candy
- Avoid eating hard or sticky food
- Don’ go to bed at night without brushing your teeth
- Don’t rush when you floss or brush your teeth
- Don’t replace proper flossing with mouthwash
- Don’t use teeth whitening products that aren’t approved by the ADA
- Don’t wait until you feel aches or pains to see your dentist
How Can I Reverse Gum Recession and Rebuild My Gums?
Once your gums have started to recede, it’s not possible to grow them back. What you can do is take measures to keep it from getting worse. See your dental hygienist as soon as you see the signs of gum recession.
You can get your teeth professionally cleaned, and get proper advice on how to brush and floss properly. A mild gum recession is normal, especially after the age of 40. However, it’s extremely important to see your dentist to rule out the possibility of it being a symptom of a deeper issue such as gum disease.
There’s also the possibility of getting a gingival grafting, or the regeneration of the recession with new gum tissue. This is a process called ‘periodontal plastic surgery,’ and it’s done under local anesthesia.
Receding gums affect your ability to smile wide and bright, and it can also lead to far worse conditions such as losing your teeth if not treated well.
If you’re wearing braces, there is a slight increase of risk getting receding gums, but there are many preventative measures to keep that from happening. In most cases, the benefits of orthodontics far outweigh the risks.
If you have highly misaligned teeth, getting braces when you’re young can in fact prevent you from developing gum recession later on in life.
Make it a habit to see your dentist at least twice a year and always follow good oral hygiene habits to decrease your chances of getting oral diseases.