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Are My Child’s Braces Causing Their Swollen Gums?

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young girl with swollen gums getting braces examined

Your child walks up to you with an expression you recognize all too well. Something’s wrong. They tell you their mouth feels sore, and after taking a quick look, you immediately notice that they have red, swollen gums. They got braces not too long ago, so are they causing this problem, or is something else going on? What can you do to help your little one feel better? This is a common issue, and thankfully, the causes aren’t too serious, and the solutions are very simple in most cases.

Do Braces Cause Swollen Gums?

In short, yes, braces can cause swollen gums, but most of the time, they are not the primary cause. Right after they are put on, the brackets and wires can cause some slight irritation in the mouth, and it usually goes away after a week or so. The movement of the teeth due to orthodontic treatment can cause slight soreness in the gums as well, especially after the braces have been adjusted.

But, more often than not, the cause of swollen gums is a buildup of plaque on and between the teeth, which leads to gum inflammation. This is also the root cause of gum disease, of which swollen gums is a main symptom. Because brushing and flossing are a little more difficult with braces, particularly for children, it’s common for them to not clean their mouth as well, which can lead to the accumulation of plaque and swollen gums.

What You Can Do

If your child’s gums are swollen in a small, specific area right next to a bracket or wire, place some dental wax over it. This should smooth out the surface and feel more comfortable. If the swelling goes away, then you know you’ve addressed the root of the problem.

But, if the swelling is more widespread, then your child likely needs to take a little more time brushing and flossing their teeth. Ideally, they should be brushing for at least two minutes each after every meal and snack, as it’s easier for food particles to become stuck in the mouth due to braces. Flossing is also extremely important, and it’s worth it to pick up some interdental flossers at the store to enable your child to get in between the brackets and wires. Once the amount of plaque is reduced, the swelling should quickly go away.

When to Call Their Orthodontist

If you’ve tried both of these methods, and your child’s gums are still not looking or feeling great, then go ahead and contact their orthodontist. They may need to adjust the fit of the braces in order to help your child be more comfortable, or they can show them a few different ways to clean their teeth and appliance to prevent plaque buildup.

Whatever the cause, your child doesn’t need to just “tough it out” when it comes to swollen gums. Solutions are easily available and take practically no time, and if you need professional help, it’s always just a phone call away.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Shirck is a board-certified orthodontist based in the Columbus area that has earned numerous awards for his care over the years. In addition to providing effective treatment for all of his young patients, he also does his best to make the orthodontic process as comfortable as possible. If your child is having issues with their braces, don’t wait, you can always contact our office for help. We can make adjustments if necessary so your little one has a smooth journey toward their new smile. To contact our team, click here.