While many patients choose orthodontic treatment to improve their teeth, they might not realize how it can impact another very important component of their dental health: their gums. Here, we break down this information for our provider’s patients:
- Why September is National Gum Care Month
- Different Aspects of Gum Disease
- How Fixed-Oral Appliances and Removable Clear Aligners Affect Gum Health
- How to Become an Orthosnap Provider
September is National Gum Care Month, which serves as a method to raise awareness of gum health. National Gum Care Month is especially important in a nation where nearly half of adults suffer from some form of gum disease. Although gum disease is common, it’s fairly preventable through proper oral hygiene.
Orthodontic treatment does not solely rely on healthy teeth. Healthy gums are just as important part of your smile, and preventing gum disease is a crucial part of protecting your dental health and alignment.
What causes gum disease?
The mouth is a complex ecosystem of bacteria. Like the gut, the mouth houses different types of bacteria to create a symbiotic oral microbiome. When oral bacteria is unbalanced, pathogens evade, infect gingiva, and cause gum disease.
Poor oral hygiene is typically the root cause of gum disease, but certain health conditions, genetics, and lifestyle choices can also contribute to its development.
Defining the Stages of Gum Disease
Generally, gum disease is broken up into four stages:
- Stage 1: Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, often showcases inflammation, discomfort, and bleeding. You might also notice calculus and plaque buildup. With professional intervention (via Scaling and Root Planing) and consistent oral hygiene routines, gingivitis is reversible.
- Stage 2: Mild Periodontitis can only be treated, not reversed. It evolves from untreated gingivitis. During this beginning stage of periodontitis, periodontal pockets begin to form around the tooth. Furthermore, bone and tissue loss starts.
- Stage 3: Moderate Periodontitis continues the bone and tissue destruction. You might notice a bone level reduction during this stage.
- Stage 4: Severe Periodontitis is the most advanced stage of gum disease. Typically, it is showcased by extensive bone and tissue loss. Also, your teeth might become loose and must be replaced.
To summarize, gingivitis and periodontitis are gum infections–but only gingivitis can be reversed with professional supervision. On the other hand, periodontitis is permanent and can only be managed so that the condition does not exacerbate and cause more destruction, such as tissue, bone, and tooth loss.
Common Warning Signs of Gum Disease
Generally, healthy gums are pale pink, firm, and fit tightly around the teeth. If you are developing gum disease, you might notice:
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Receding gums
- Bad breath
- Sensitive roots
- Painful chewing
- New spaces between the teeth
- A newly misaligned bite
How to Prevent Gingivitis and Periodontitis
As a rule of thumb, it’s more sensible to prevent gum disease than treat it. Sometimes, the initial stages of gum disease go unnoticed because they often don’t hurt and aren’t visible to the naked eye. Therefore, it’s wise to establish the habit of regular dental visits. Here, your dental team can remove plaque buildup and keep an eye on the health of your gums.
At home, you can ensure daily flossing and brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Gum Health and Braces vs. Clear Aligners
When comparing fixed oral appliances (braces) and clear aligners, patients treated with clear aligners tend to have healthier gums. Because clear aligners are removable, patients have direct access to enamel and the cracks between their teeth. After the patient temporarily takes out the trays, bacterial plaque and food particles are easier to remove with brushing and flossing.
Removing debris may be more challenging for patients with fixed, conventional braces. If plaque accumulates around the brackets, this may lead to dental decay and inflamed gums (gingivitis). Again, gingivitis is reversible. But when it advances, it morphs into incurable, destructive periodontitis.
How Periodontal Disease Affects Systemic and Oral Health
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Still, the damage is not restrained to the mouth: gum disease is associated with an increased risk of serious degenerative diseases. When oral bacteria leeches into the gums and the bloodstream, it can increase inflammation throughout the whole body.
Scientists at Harvard believe that inflammation is a response from the immune system. The immune system sends white blood cells to eliminate bacteria and disease, but gum tissue becomes collateral damage.
Patients with advanced periodontitis are associated with a higher risk for diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cardiac problems, and other serious conditions. Periodontitis is less likely to develop in patients who use clear aligners.
Orthodontic Treatment and Periodontitis
Braces and clear aligners move teeth by exerting pressure on them. Your teeth and gums must be healthy and strong to withstand the added orthodontic pressure. Healthy gum tissue is vigorous yet flexible. Gum disease can weaken gum tissue and cause it to swell. If you are impacted by gum disease, then orthodontic treatment might not be right for you. In the same way, brittle, fragile, or sensitive teeth might not be ready for the type of pressure needed for clear aligner treatment.
If you are starting orthodontic treatment, it’s important to keep your gums healthy. According to a journal posted by the International Scholarly Research Notices, gum disease can happen at any stage of orthodontic treatment. So, providers must monitor and manage aggressive periodontitis before, after, and during treatment. Removable aligners and routine checkups can help dentists prevent the effects of the advanced stage of gum disease, including tooth and bone loss.
Become an Orthosnap Provider Today
Orthosnap provides everything patients and doctors need for a seamless experience for both parties. Our services include:
- Comprehensive consultations with our representatives
- 24/7 customer service
- Training and product updates
- Online portal for case tracking
- Customed plans with objectives set by the practice
- Marketing support
- Custom packaging
- Educational materials for doctors and patients
Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to expand your dental practice. Contact our team today at (516) 506-7606 to learn more.