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Updated on December 28, 2022
4 min read

Swollen Gums with Braces

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What Causes Swollen Gums With Braces?

Braces are dental appliances used to straighten crooked teeth or realign jaws over time. They can cause swollen gums, especially after they’re installed or adjusted. 

Gum swelling caused by braces usually subsides after a short time. If it doesn’t, it may signify other dental conditions, including:

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a mild gum disease where gum tissue becomes inflamed. Studies show that people with braces have higher rates of gingivitis.1

Braces move teeth apart, creating gaps for bacteria to grow. You can develop gingivitis if you have trouble with or neglect oral hygiene when you have braces.

Other symptoms of gingivitis besides swollen gums include:

  • Dark-red gums
  • Gum tenderness
  • Receding gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away

Tooth Movement

Orthodontic braces move teeth into alignment. As they do this, they may irritate the soft tissue between your teeth. Swollen gums may occur as a result.

Swelling from teeth movement should be temporary. You can brush and floss daily to relieve and prevent gum soreness.

Gingival Hyperplasia

Gingival hyperplasia, also known as gingival enlargement, involves an overgrowth of gum tissue around the teeth. Braces can trigger gingival hyperplasia and cause gums to grow larger or even over the braces.

Typically, gingival enlargement will subside in the weeks after your dentist removes your braces. If the condition is severe, your dentist may recommend a procedure, such as a gingivectomy, to reduce the gum overgrowth. 

Removing excess tissue can keep plaque growth and swelling under control.2

Natural Hormonal Imbalances

Hormone shifts, such as during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, can cause swollen or tender gums. These hormonal events can increase the inflammation response to plaque build-up in the gums.3

If you have braces during a significant hormonal event, it may cause swollen gums. You may also experience bleeding gums.

Allergies

Braces contain hypoallergenic materials but can cause an allergic reaction in rare cases.

Swollen, puffy, or itchy gums might indicate an allergic reaction. Contact your dentist immediately. 

How to Get Rid of Swollen Gums With Braces

If your gums swell after your braces are installed or adjusted, the symptoms may disappear after a few days.

If swelling and tenderness persist, you can try at-home and in-office treatments.

Home Remedies

To relieve symptoms at home, try:

  • Maintaining your oral hygiene — the best way to soothe swollen or tender gums is to keep your mouth clean. Brush your teeth until your brackets are clear, and floss daily. Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after you brush and floss.
  • Rinsing with salt water — warm salt water rinses are just as effective as chemical rinses at reducing inflammation.4 Rinse once or twice a day for best results.
  • Taking over-the-counter (OTC) medicine — take an anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Eating the right foods — avoid hard-to-chew foods so you don’t exacerbate your symptoms. 
  • Using natural alternatives — natural remedies like clove oil may soothe your gums. Studies show that clove oil has anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties.5 Try dabbing it on your gums with a Q-tip. 

Professional Treatments

Always contact your dentist if your swollen gums persist for a long time or don’t respond to at-home remedies. Your dentist may recommend in-office treatments for severe gum inflammation, such as:

  • A deep cleaning to remove plaque
  • Gingivectomy to remove excess gum tissue
  • Ultrasonic treatment to reduce inflammation
  • Laser excision to remove excess gum tissue

Tips for Preventing Gum Discomfort From Braces

It’s normal to experience swollen gums when you have braces, especially when you first get them on. However, you can take several steps to keep the swelling down. 

Here are some best practices for keeping braces clean and comfortable:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene — brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash daily will keep dental plaque at bay, ultimately reducing swelling.
  • Use the right toothbrush — dentists recommend soft bristles and electric toothbrushes for a high-quality hygiene routine.6 You can also try a water flosser if you find flossing difficult.
  • Avoid certain foods — stop eating foods like popcorn, hard candies, chewy meat, and corn that get caught in your braces.
  • Visit your dentist frequently — seeing your dentist for routine cleanings will keep your gums healthy and comfortable.

Summary

Swollen gums are a common occurrence when you have braces. You might experience them after having your braces initially placed or adjusted.

Other factors can also contribute to swollen or tender gums. These include gingivitis, teeth movement, and hormone changes.

Being vigilant about your oral hygiene routine is the best way to prevent and soothe swollen gums.

Last updated on December 28, 2022
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 28, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Boke, F., et al. “Relationship between orthodontic treatment and gingival health: A retrospective study.” European Journal of Dentistry, National Library of Medicine, 2014.
  2. Benoist, H., et al. “Gingival hypertrophy during orthodontic treatment: contribution of external bevel gingivectomy. Case report.” Odontostomatologie Tropicale, National Library of Medicine, 2007. 
  3. Jafri, Z., et al. “Influence of female sex hormones on periodontium: A case series.” Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine, National Library of Medicine, 2015. 
  4. Gupta, S., et al. “Is saltwater mouth rinse as effective as chlorhexidine following periodontal surgery?” Evidence-Based Dentistry, National Library of Medicine, 2021. 
  5. Chaieb, K., et al. “The chemical composition and biological activity of clove essential oil, Eugenia caryophyllata (Syzigium aromaticum L. Myrtaceae): a short review.” Phytotherapy Research, National Library of Medicine, 2007.
  6. Lindenmüller, I., et al. “Oral Care.” Current Problems in Dermatology, National Library of Medicine, 2011.
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