While some gum recession is a normal part of aging, sudden changes in your gumline could indicate an oral health issue that needs to be treated. Without treatment, gum recession can degrade important oral structures like the bones and tissues that support healthy teeth, leading to disease or even tooth loss.
While braces cannot treat gum recession that has already occurred, they can prevent gum recession in some cases by improving the patient’s overall oral health. Additionally, the cosmetic changes they offer may make the problem appear less or more severe.
However, braces can also increase a patient’s risk for gum recession in some cases, especially when the person is predisposed to it. Thankfully, the benefits far outweigh the risks when it comes to choosing whether braces are a worthwhile investment for you or your child’s oral health.
Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.
What is Gum Recession?
When gums recede, more of the tooth becomes exposed. In severe cases, teeth can even be exposed down to the root. Gum recession normally happens gradually as the gums get pushed back or worn away, with severe consequences only becoming common in very old patients.
Since most people do not notice gum recession even when it happens, they may not realize that it can have serious consequences for their oral health. Without treatment, premature gum recession can cause discomfort when the person eats cold, hot, spicy, or acidic foods. Eventually, tooth sensitivity can lead to a darker gum line, which is a sign that periodontal diseases (diseases of the gums) are setting in.
Eventually, this can lead to tooth loss, so taking care of gum recession while it’s still treatable is a significant part of maintaining oral health as you age.
What Causes Gum Recession?
The main factor that can cause gum recession is a history of improper oral care over a long period, though some causes cannot be controlled. Not brushing or flossing enough, missing too many dental cleanings, or letting other oral health issues go too long without treatment are common precursors to gum recession.
Less obvious causes of gum recession include brushing too hard, which can wear away gum tissue over time, or teeth grinding, which can contribute to misalignment that can lead to oral health decline.
Additionally, genetics play a role in determining whether some people will develop receding gums. While braces do not usually cause gum recession on their own, they can play a role in its development in some people.
How Braces Could Cause Gum Recession
Braces work by loosening ligaments using constant pressure, coercing teeth into healthier positions over a period of 12-18 months (on average). This constant force can cause changes in bone structures that can cause gums to recede over time.
While the risk of minor bone loss and increased gum sensitivity following braces is well-known, it is also very small. The risk of these occurring in response to diseases caused by delaying braces treatment is far greater since having straighter teeth has been proven to reduce the risk of cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease overall.
Orthodontists usually review a patient’s risk factors for gum recession before proceeding with the treatment to make sure their patients stay informed. For instance, underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune conditions may make a person more susceptible to gum recession.
Gum problems that run through families and, therefore may have a genetic component are another red flag to consider when choosing the orthodontic treatment that’s right for you. Invisalign, for example, can provide many of the same benefits as braces while potentially having less of a risk of causing gum recession.
How to Prevent Gum Recession
The benefits of wearing braces are more than cosmetic and far outweigh the relatively small risk of dealing with gum recession later in life. Straighter teeth are easier to brush and floss and have a healthier bite, all of which can prevent oral health conditions, from cavities to tooth decay.
Those who need braces benefit from them despite the risks, which can be mitigated with a few easy strategies like using a softer toothbrush, flossing regularly, and simply being aware of the risks. Speak with your orthodontist to learn more about your risk of gum recession and what you can do.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.