How Does Orthodontics Affect Your Gums?

Why do people get their teeth straightened? The most obvious answer is for aesthetic reasons. However, orthodontics goes well beyond the look of straight teeth. Ease of cleaning the teeth, correct load on the jaw bones, and an improved wear pattern on the teeth are some other benefits of orthodontic treatment. Did you know there is also a connection between orthodontics and gum health? Orthodontics can affect gum health and shape in a variety of ways. Let’s look at a few common scenarios – gingivitis (gum inflammation), gum recession, and gingival windows  — and see how these can differ between children and adults.

Keeping gingivitis at bay:

First, patients undergoing orthodontic treatment experience changes in the way they take care of their teeth and, for this reason, we recommend that patients receive more frequent dental cleanings during orthodontic treatment to help prevent gingivitis. It is important to keep teeth clean during orthodontic treatment so the gums respond in a healthy, natural way. When teeth are clean, the orthodontic experience is more comfortable for the patient, and the results are nicer. And after the teeth are aligned, it is easier for patients to keep gingivitis at bay in the long term since aligned teeth are easier to clean.

Preventing gum recession:

A second way in which orthodontics can affect gum health is gum recession. One of the causes of gum recession is a tooth not being centered in the jaw bone. The opportunity to treat growing patients allows the orthodontist to direct the teeth to come in more centered in the bone; this results in better gum quality around those teeth in the long run.

gums and orthodontics      gums and orthodontics after treatment

Sometimes, gum recession issues completely resolve due to orthodontic treatment. Other times, patients with pre-existing gum recession may need grafting to resolve it, either before or after orthodontics, and the patient is referred to a periodontist (gum specialist) for treatment. Generally, the gums of growing patients are more resilient and therefore can regenerate more easily than the gums of adults.

Gingival windows in adults:

When teens have crowding and get their teeth aligned, their gums respond and fill in the new space. In adults, the gums are less resilient and may not fill in the space between the newly aligned teeth. The resulting space is called a gingival window, which is not a concern for gum health. In case of an aesthetic concern for the patient, it can be easily solved by reshaping of the teeth, aesthetic bonding, and/or gum procedures. These are some of the reasons that we will communicate with you and your dentist throughout treatment to make sure that at the end, we will all be rewarded with a beautiful outcome.