In honor of National Gum Care Awareness Month, we interviewed Dr. Brian Amy here in Oklahoma City about the importance of gum care for your health, especially during orthodontic treatment.

WHY DO ORTHODONTIC PATIENTS NEED TO PAY EXTRA ATTENTION TO THEIR GUMS?
One of the biggest difficulties with braces is the inability to maintain normal oral hygiene, like brushing and flossing, in order to keep things clean. With brackets and wires, your gums and teeth require more attention than normal to stay clean.

The gums and teeth react differently to orthodontic therapy, but they both suffer when not kept clean. The gums can have an overreaction to any additional plaque and bacteria and may become inflamed and bulbous. This causes them to increase in size and can actually cover the brackets, making teeth movement and gaining access to the wires difficult. In extreme cases, surgical intervention is the only option.

WHY IS GUM CARE IMPORTANT THROUGHOUT LIFE?
Taking care of your teeth and gums prolongs the use of them into old age.

Also, the health of your gums are directly connected to your heart and cardiovascular health. It is very common to find specific oral bacteria embedded in the arterial plaques that surround the heart as well as the carotid arteries. These plaques containing detrimental bacteria do cause destruction of the valves in the heart as well as invasion through the vessels to destroy surrounding tissues.

If you simply do basic maintenance of your teeth and gums, the time spent and the cost of treatment, over the lifetime of the patient, is significantly less than if you don’t take care of yourself.

WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR GUM CARE FOR BRACES PATIENTS AND INVISALIGN PATIENTS?
The regular dental maintenance still stand the test of time. Brush, floss and get regular checkups.

Sometimes certain patients will need extra help or find benefit from other dental aides. For example, sometimes the addition of a WaterPik is beneficial. In some cases, patients may use a mouth rinse to help with the managing of plaque and bacteria.

THE BEST THING FOR EVERYONE, REGARDLESS IF THEY HAVE ORTHODONTIC CARE OR NOT, IS TO GO TO THEIR DENTIST MORE FREQUENTLY, AND GET THEIR TEETH CLEANED PROFESSIONALLY.