How To Reduce Swollen Gums with Braces

April 11, 2024

Swollen gums are a common concern for many people with braces, leading to discomfort and, at times, affecting overall oral health. This swelling can be caused by the braces themselves, as they apply pressure to the teeth and gums, or from particles of food getting trapped, leading to plaque buildup and inflammation. 

Proper care and hygiene are essential in managing and reducing this swelling, ensuring that your journey to a perfect smile is as comfortable as possible. While braces are a significant commitment towards achieving that dream smile, understanding how to care for your gums during this time can make all the difference. 

By adopting a few simple practices, you can significantly mitigate discomfort and keep your gums in top condition.

How Braces Can Cause Swollen Gums

Braces are designed to gradually realign and straighten teeth, which is achieved through the application of constant pressure. This pressure is not only exerted on the teeth but also impacts the surrounding gums, often leading to irritation and, subsequently, swelling. 

Moreover, the presence of braces creates numerous tiny spaces around the teeth, which can become traps for food particles and bacteria if not cleaned properly. This accumulation of plaque and bacteria around the braces and gum line can lead to gingivitis, a condition marked by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. 

Additionally, the initial adjustment period after getting braces or following a tightening session can exacerbate gum sensitivity and swelling, making oral hygiene even more critical during these times.

6 Tips for Reducing Swollen Gums with Braces

The common side effect of swollen gums that come with using braces shouldn't deter you on your smile journey. There are several effective strategies to alleviate and prevent gum swelling. 

The following tips are designed not only to reduce the discomfort associated with swollen gums but also to enhance your overall oral health during your orthodontic treatment.

Tip 1: Improve Your Oral Hygiene Routine

Improving your oral hygiene routine is paramount when it comes to managing swollen gums with braces. The complexity of cleaning teeth effectively increases significantly once braces are in place, creating numerous small spaces where plaque and food particles can hide. This can quickly lead to gum inflammation if not addressed properly. 

A cornerstone of a good oral hygiene regimen is brushing at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. An orthodontic toothbrush or an electric toothbrush with a head designed to navigate the nooks and crannies around wires and brackets can be especially effective. These tools are adept at removing the plaque and particles that contribute to swollen gums.

Flossing is another critical component, albeit a bit trickier with braces. Utilizing floss threaders or orthodontic flossers can help navigate the floss behind the wires and clean effectively between the teeth and along the gum line. 

Adding an antiseptic mouthwash to your daily routine can further aid in reducing the bacteria in your mouth, offering an additional layer of defense against gum swelling. Opt for a mouthwash that targets gingivitis and plaque for the best results. 

Tip 2: Rinse with Saltwater

Rinsing with saltwater is a remarkably simple yet effective method for easing swollen gums associated with braces. This natural remedy works wonders by drawing fluids out of the inflamed tissues, reducing swelling, and eliminating bacteria that can lead to further infection. 

To prepare a saltwater rinse, simply dissolve a half teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Swishing this solution around your mouth for about 30 seconds, especially after meals, can help cleanse the areas around your braces and soothe irritated gums. 

Recommended for use two to three times a day, it serves as a vital addition to your oral hygiene regimen, keeping your mouth clean and aiding in the quick recovery of swollen tissues. Incorporating saltwater rinses into your daily oral care routine complements the efforts of brushing and flossing, providing an additional layer of protection against gum diseases like gingivitis.

Tip 3: Apply Oral Gels

Applying oral gels is an effective strategy for directly addressing the discomfort of swollen gums with braces. These gels often contain ingredients like benzocaine, lidocaine, or natural anti-inflammatory agents, which can provide immediate relief from pain and significantly reduce inflammation. 

Finding an oral gel that is specifically designed for gum sensitivity and inflammation can be a game-changer. It’s important to apply the gel according to the instructions, typically after your regular oral hygiene routine, to ensure that the active ingredients effectively target the affected areas.

The advantage of using oral gels lies in their targeted approach. Unlike systemic pain relievers, oral gels act directly on the sore or swollen gums, providing fast and localized relief. This makes them an ideal solution for managing the acute discomfort that can come with adjusting to new braces or after tightening sessions. 

Furthermore, many oral gels also have antiseptic properties, helping to keep the mouth clean and reducing the risk of infections that could exacerbate gum swelling.

Tip 4: Use a Cold Compress

Using a cold compress is a tried-and-true method for alleviating the discomfort of swollen gums with braces. The cold temperature helps to constrict blood vessels, which can reduce swelling and numb the area, providing immediate relief from pain. It's a non-invasive, simple remedy that can be easily incorporated into your routine whenever your gums feel particularly tender or inflamed. 

For optimal results, wrap a few ice cubes in a clean cloth or use a commercial cold pack, and apply it to the outside of your mouth where the swelling is most pronounced. Short sessions, lasting about 15-20 minutes, are effective in managing discomfort while avoiding any potential harm from excessive cold exposure.

This approach is especially beneficial after orthodontic adjustments when gums are prone to increased sensitivity and swelling. The soothing effect of the cold not only reduces inflammation but also minimizes the sensation of pain, making it easier to get through the initial days of adjustment.

Tip 5: Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated plays a pivotal role in maintaining oral health, especially for individuals with braces. Adequate water intake helps to flush out food particles and bacteria from the mouth, reducing the risk of plaque buildup that can lead to swollen gums. 

Water also promotes saliva production, which naturally cleanses the mouth and helps protect against gum inflammation and other dental issues. For those wearing braces, making a conscious effort to drink water throughout the day can significantly aid in minimizing discomfort and maintaining healthier gums.

Drinking water after every meal or snack is particularly beneficial, as it can help dislodge any food particles that are stuck in and around the braces, preventing them from contributing to plaque formation and gum swelling.

Tip 6: Avoid Irritating Foods

Avoiding irritating foods is crucial for individuals with braces, as certain types of food can exacerbate gum swelling and cause additional discomfort. Hard, sticky, or overly sugary foods can be particularly problematic, as they are more likely to get trapped in and around the braces, leading to plaque accumulation and increased risk of gum inflammation. 

Foods like popcorn, hard candies, and gum can not only irritate swollen gums but also potentially damage the braces themselves. By steering clear of these irritants, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of experiencing swollen gums with braces.

In addition to avoiding harmful foods, incorporating softer, braces-friendly foods into your diet can help maintain oral health and comfort. 

Options such as smoothies, soups, and soft-cooked vegetables are not only gentle on your gums but also provide the necessary nutrients to support overall oral health. These foods minimize the risk of irritation and inflammation, offering a safer dietary choice for those looking to reduce discomfort associated with braces.

When to See an Orthodontist

While the tips provided can significantly aid in managing swollen gums with braces, there are instances where professional intervention is necessary. Recognizing when to seek the help of a dentist or orthodontist is key to preventing minor issues from escalating into more serious conditions. 

We advise you see an orthodontist when you notice the following:

  • Persistent swelling that does not subside with home care measures.
  • Severe discomfort or pain in the gums that interferes with daily activities.
  • Signs of infection, such as pus discharge from the gums, unusually red gums, or an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
  • Noticeable receding gums or gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing.
  • Loose braces or wires, or if the braces are causing continuous irritation or injury to the inside of your mouth.
  • Regular check-ups, as recommended by your orthodontist, to monitor the progress of your treatment and the overall health of your gums and teeth.

Orthodontist in Mount Holly & Moorestown, NJ

At MKY Ortho, we understand that the journey to achieving your perfect smile with braces involves more than just adjusting wires; it's about providing comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of your oral health, including the management of swollen gums. 

Our commitment to excellence and patient comfort sets us apart as the leading provider of braces treatment and care in Mount Holly, NJ, and Moorestown, NJ. Our team of experienced orthodontists is dedicated to ensuring that your orthodontic experience is as smooth and comfortable as possible. 

From the moment you step into our offices, you'll receive personalized care tailored to meet your unique needs. We use the latest techniques and technologies to minimize discomfort and promote faster, more effective treatment outcomes.

If you're in Mount Holly, NJ, Moorestown, NJ, or the surrounding areas and are considering braces, or if you're experiencing discomfort with your current braces, we invite you to schedule your assessment with us at MKY Ortho. 

Let us show you how our expert care can make a difference in your orthodontic journey and help you achieve the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve.

Get in Touch!


(856) 234-4044

99 West Main St. Moorestown, NJ 08057

Mount Holly

(609) 267-1221

120 Madison Ave., Suite F Mount Holly, NJ 08060

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