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How Orthodontics Helps Prevent Gum Disease

Periodontal gum disease

GRAYSLAKE, Ill.- Orthodontics can benefit many aspects of your smile, including periodontal health. Despite this fact, gums and orthodontic treatment seem to have a love/hate relationship.

A brief period in braces or Invisalign leaves patients more susceptible to gingivitis, yet the treatment’s outcome of aligned teeth reduces the likelihood of acquiring periodontal disease in the future.

“Arch wires and brackets can trap food particles and harbor plaque if the teeth are not brushed, which exposes gums to more bacteria and irritation,” says Skokie orthodontist Dr. Michael Stosich. “Likewise, Invisalign trays will harbor food particles and plaque if the teeth are not brushed after every meal. Shifting teeth may also contribute to periodontal issues. With that said, all it takes is a diligent oral hygiene routine during treatment to protect gums from disease.”

To what extent orthodontic treatment benefits gum health is still debated among professionals, but what we do know is gums achieve a tighter seal around teeth that are in proper alignment. It’s tough for gums to get a snug fit around misaligned, overlapping or widely spaced teeth. Recessed or poor fitting gum lines leave the periodontium increasingly vulnerable to harmful bacteria and infection.

In a 2008 study, The Journal of Dental Education sought to discover more about the gum health/orthodontics connection. After an extensive review, researchers concluded participants with malocclusion (misaligned teeth) were more likely to suffer from periodontal disease than those without malocclusion. More proof of the love/hate relationship, researchers also noted how orthodontic treatment can briefly exacerbate pre-existing periodontal disease.

“It’s best to resolve all serious dental health conditions, not just gum disease, prior to beginning orthodontic care. We work closely with other professionals to ensure our patients receive optimal and comprehensive care,” says Dr. Stosich. “A healthy mouth leads to a more streamlined treatment experience.”

The Center for Disease Control estimates nearly half of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease, ranging from mild gingivitis to severe periodontitis. Periodontal disease is far more than an annoyance that makes your gums bleed when flossing. It’s a bacterial infection that calls for prompt treatment. In addition to eliciting tooth loss and jaw bone deterioration, a growing body of evidence even links poor periodontal health to cardiovascular problems, stroke, dementia and certain cancers.

To best protect your gums during treatment, gently brush teeth, including the gum line, with a soft bristled tooth brush twice daily, at least. Every day, remove wedged food particles by using floss threaders to weave floss under arch wires and between teeth.

Close out your oral hygiene routine with a swish of antimicrobial mouth wash and a quick inspection of your appliance to ensure all plaque is gone. Invisalign patients should follow these guidelines, too, since the system’s aligners will press food particles left behind into teeth and gums.

Orthodontic treatment is not an answer to periodontal disease. Rather, orthodontics helps to establish an oral environment better suited to defend against such conditions. When teeth are in proper alignment, gums function like they’re supposed to. This is significant, since healthy gums are vital to a healthy mouth and body.

There’s more love at the end of this love/hate relationship. The periodontal perks of orthodontic treatment are just another reason why orthodontics is a smart investment in the long-term health of your smile. To set up a complimentary consultation and learn more about the dental and periodontal health benefits of orthodontics, give us a call. Dr. Stosich and our team at Stosich Consulting in the Kenilworth area are eager to give you the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve.

© 2014 Dr. Michael Stosich. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Dr. Michael Stosich is credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this article is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.


  • Michael S. Stosich, DMD, MS, MS

    Dr. Michael Stosich is a board-certified orthodontist and the director of orthodontics at the University of Chicago Medicine. He is known for his extensive experience in leading clinical enterprises, publishing, and lecturing both in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Stosich has expertise in starting, growing, and maintaining successful orthodontic practices, including those in pediatric dentistry, general dentistry, and multi-specialty clinics. He serves on the editorial board of several publications and has been involved in innovating patient care and education, focusing on the future of dental and orthodontic healthcare.

Stosich Consulting