Individuals with crooked, overcrowded or misaligned teeth would find plenty of difficulties when it comes to taking care of their teeth and gums. In addition to having an imperfect smile (they would hardly smile for fear of showing their imperfections), these individuals would face plenty of dental issues like decay, cavities, gum diseases like periodontal disease and loss of teeth etc.
Orthodontic braces or orthodontia appliances as they are otherwise called are dental devices that follow the traditional approach to straightening crooked, misaligned or over crowded teeth. These devices employ the use of metal wires and brackets which are firmly fitted to teeth and are then gradually tightened over a period of time to move the teeth into a proper alignment.
Orthodontic Braces and Swelling
If you are fitted with braces for the first time, you would probably notice some swelling in the gums owing to the metal wires and brackets attached to your teeth. In addition to this, the wires and brackets would be constantly working on your teeth, making them move to a better alignment. This constant tooth movement can also cause the gums to swell up, thus causing discomfort and in some cases, extreme pain.
Added to this is the issue of proper maintenance, the importance of which many individuals fail to neglect. Improper maintenance of orthodontic braces and the teeth they are fitted with can cause germ buildup in the area which in turn can lead to a spate of dental issues like teeth stains, decay or cavities etc. Improper maintenance can also cause the gums to swell up and in the worst case scenario, bleed profusely.
Tips to Stop Gum Swelling
Therefore, it is considered imperative that you take care of your teeth and gums properly, and practice good dental and oral hygiene in order to prevent gum swelling while wearing braces. And here are some ways that can be done.
Regular Brushing and Flossing
It would be difficult to brush and floss your teeth with the braces attached to them. Nevertheless, you need to brush and floss your teeth regularly to make sure no food and plaque particles left out could lead to germ buildup. It pays to brush your teeth after every meal so that you remove dirt and other particles from your teeth and keep your gums healthy in the process.
Use a fluoride toothpaste or one recommended by your orthodontist and angle the toothbrush in such a way that you have easy access to the gum line. In addition to helping you keep your teeth clean, this practice could actually soothe gum swelling caused by the brackets and wires present in the braces. Flossing can also be a bothersome activity if you are wearing braces.
But you need to do it nonetheless. So make sure you floss after every meal to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. You can opt for a floss threader for the purpose as well. Another alternative to flossing is to employ a water sprayer to wash out stubborn food and dirt particles from all areas of the mouth. This way you can easily get rid of unwanted particles from places that are very hard to floss (like the inner teeth).
Medications for Swelling
If the swelling does not subside and becomes too painful to bear, you can possibly consider taking medications to reduce the swelling. Accordingly, you can opt for an anti inflammatory pain killer like Advil/Ibuprofen, but only after getting the nod of your orthodontist.
Mouth Washes and Rinses
Make it a point to regularly rinse your teeth and gums with a good quality mouthwash (preferably one that contains fluoride). In addition to keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy, this practice could bring down the swelling caused by orthodontic braces.
You can also opt for warm salt water solution as an effective rinse to reduce gum swelling. Accordingly, you can mix ½ teaspoon of salt in a cup of lukewarm water and then gargle it in your mouth for about 5 minutes before spitting it out. In addition to cleaning your teeth and gums, the salt water rinse would effectively soothe swollen gums and reduce inflammation.
Many experts claim that massaging the gums can reduce inflammation caused by braces in addition to reducing the pain and discomfort caused by the same to a great extent. The best way to massage swollen gums is to opt for a soft toothbrush and press it sans any toothpaste against the teeth and gums for about ½ hour. Doing so would most definitely bring down the swelling in the gums.
As and when you get fitted with braces, you would need to make certain changes to your existing diet in order to make sure that your braces remain free from dirt and damage, and your teeth and gums remain healthy in the process. It is considered wise to refrain from eating hard and rough textured foods with braces.
In addition to potentially damaging the wires and brackets, these foods could increase gum swelling and pain. Accordingly, foods which are hard to bite into like raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, crusty breads etc. need to be avoided at all costs. Individuals with braces should also refrain from eating sticky foods like gum or candies. These can stick to the teeth or braces and make it difficult for regular flossing.
Smoking can cause swollen gums, especially with braces. In addition to staining teeth, smoking can also destroy healthy gum tissue, causing inflammation and pain. So make it a point to kick the habit, at least until you have your braces removed. It also pays to let go of other things like tobacco (both the snuff and chew varieties) and alcohol which could aggravate the irritation and swelling in the gums.
You also need to let of habits like biting nails, chewing pen/pencil caps and other similar actions that would require your teeth to chew on something. The excess pressure placed by the tooth on the object while chewing can irritate the gums and cause swelling. Habits like biting the lip or moving the tongue over the teeth can also cause gum swelling and pain.
Regular Orthodontist Appointments
Make sure to keep visiting your orthodontist regularly even after being fitted with braces. You can also opt to get your teeth cleaned by a professional twice every year in addition to getting them and your gums regularly checked for anomalies that could cause swelling.