If your teeth are misaligned or overcrowded, braces can greatly improve the quality of your smile. But gum disease can render orthodontic treatment ineffective – and in some cases, where the supporting structures of the teeth are compromised, braces may actually cause more harm than good.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half of all American adults aged 30 and over have some form of gum disease. While many of them experience symptoms such as red, swollen, or painful gums, it’s possible to have gum disease without any obvious signs.
That’s why one of the most important things to do before you get braces is to receive a thorough exam from a periodontist to ensure that your gums are healthy.
The Connection Between Periodontics and Braces Treatment
There is a reciprocal relationship between your gum health and the alignment of your teeth. Poor positioning, uneven spacing, and overcrowding can make it difficult to properly clean your teeth and gums, leading to bacterial overgrowth and eventual gum disease. Receiving orthodontic treatment to correct malocclusion or straighten your teeth can improve your long-term oral health.
However, getting braces when you’re suffering from active gingivitis or periodontitis can put your teeth at risk. Any kind of orthodontic treatment – including braces, Invisalign, or SmileDirectClub aligners – involves shifting the position of teeth in your mouth by applying continuous, directed pressure, and over time, changing the shape of your jaw to accommodate this new positioning. If your gums are inflamed or infected with bacteria while this process is underway, it could compromise the integrity of your teeth.
Getting Periodontal Clearance for Braces
Before getting braces, it’s important to check with your periodontist to make sure your mouth is healthy enough to sustain the treatment. During a periodontal exam, your periodontist will evaluate the state of your teeth, gums, bite, and bone structure, as well as assess risk factors, such as your age and general health status. They’ll look for inflammation, bleeding, redness, recession, and loose teeth, and if necessary, make recommendations for treatment to restore your gums to optimal health.
Periodontal Procedures Before Orthodontic Treatment
If your periodontist finds evidence of gum disease or gum recession, your treatment plan may involve any of the following procedures:
1. Scaling and root planing
This deep-cleaning treatment removes hardened plaque, tartar, and bacterial deposits from your teeth – both above and below the gumline – and smoothes the root surfaces to allow for thorough healing. Learn more about Perio Maintenance Vs Scaling and Root Planing (Deep Cleaning) Vs Prophy here.
2. Pocket reduction surgery
Also known as flap surgery, this procedure can be done alongside scaling and root planing. It entails folding back your gum tissue to remove bacteria and debris from “pockets” that have formed around your teeth, before securing them back into place. This helps to reduce inflammation and potentially saves your teeth from further damage.
If your gums have receded, your periodontist may suggest a gum graft before, during, or after orthodontics to help build stronger gum tissue and to help prevent further recession.
After you’ve been treated for periodontal disease, it’s crucial to keep your gums healthy by working closely with your periodontist to receive regular periodontal maintenance.
Prepare for Braces at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry
Before you begin orthodontic treatment, come see Dr. Kwok at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry for a thorough evaluation of your gums. After your checkup, he’ll let you know whether you’re ready for braces or aligners, and if you’re not, he’ll provide you with a detailed treatment plan to improve your periodontal health so you can safely take the next steps to enhance your smile.
Call us today at (619) 543-0905 to schedule your appointment for a periodontal checkup before you get braces or aligners.