Dental braces are appliances which adjust and move teeth slowly over time. They’re used to treat conditions such as crooked teeth or jaw misalignment.

Swelling and pain in the gums can be caused by braces. This is to be expected when braces are new or being adjusted. However, swollen gums can also signal a dental condition, such as gingivitis.

In this article we’ll go over how and why braces make gums swell. We’ll also discuss treatment options and prevention.

There are several reasons your gums may feel tender while you have braces. They include:

  • Poor oral hygiene. Food and dental plaque stick easier to your braces. Bacteria can grow on these plaques and induce inflammation of gum – gingivitis.
  • Moving teeth induce a small about of inflammation around your teeth and lower than usual bacteria on dental plaque could result in gingivitis.
  • Patient with underlying health condition like diabetes or obesity are more prone to inflamed gums.

Teeth movement

Realigning teeth is a significant task. Even though you can’t see your teeth moving, the constant, steady pressure that braces apply causes changes to occur in your gums and jaw bone.

Gum swelling and pain are a common reaction to getting braces for the first time. Braces also need to be adjusted frequently, around once a month, causing gum discomfort. This is perfectly normal, transient, and to be expected. Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly can reduce the amount of gum soreness around your teeth.


Tiny spaces can open up between your teeth as braces move them. Food and dental plaque can become trapped in these spaces where bacteria grow and induce inflammation. If you’re having trouble keeping your teeth clean because your braces are in the way, this can cause plaque buildup, gingivitis, and swollen gums. A portion of gingivitis could lead to destruction of bone tissue around your teeth which is an irreversible damage, hence it is critical to keep your oral hygiene at a high level during your treatment.

Gums that become swollen as a result of plaque buildup and gingivitis will need to be cared for and treated. Some patients see their general dentist more frequently during orthodontic treatment.

Gingival hyperplasia

Occasionally, plaque buildup or gum irritation caused by braces may trigger a condition known as gingival hyperplasia. Gingival hyperplasia is also referred to as gingival enlargement, or hypertrophy.

It results from an overgrowth of gum tissue around the teeth. Gingival hyperplasia from braces typically reduces by increased or more effective oral hygiene habits.

Gingival overgrowth often subsides 6-8 weeks after removal of braces while maintaining a great oral hygiene. In some patients, the overgrown gum become fibrotic and needs to be surgically removed.

Here are a few ways to curb your gum tenderness from home:

  • Swollen gums can be soothed at home by rinsing several times daily with warm salt water.
  • Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication that reduces swelling and pain can also help.
  • Avoid eating tough, hard-to-chew foods when your gums feel tender.
  • Flossing between your teeth is the key to reduce inflammation of you gum. You could use a waterpik as an option, yet unwaxed floss is the best option.

If your swollen gums have been caused by gingivitis, seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups will help, provided that you remain diligent with at-home dental care.

If your gums are very painful or so swollen that they appear to be growing over your teeth, see your dentist or orthodontist.

If the cause is severe gingival hyperplasia which doesn’t respond to at-home treatment, your orthodontist may need to remove the irritated or diseased gum tissue. This is often done with a laser.

It is hard to avoid gum swelling when you are wearing braces. However, proper dental hygiene can make your gums healthier and less prone to severe swelling. It can also help reduce your chances of getting gingivitis or advanced gum disease, which is known as periodontitis.

Braces can make it hard to clean your teeth. However, maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential for reducing gum swelling caused by plaque buildup and gingivitis. Things to do include:

  • Brush your teeth with an electric tooth brush that has a soft brush head.
  • Use an orthodontic floss threader that makes it easier to clean between teeth and under the gumline.
  • Use an antibacterial mouth rinse after brushing.

In addition, avoid eating foods which can get trapped in your braces easily. These include:

  • steak
  • corn on the cob
  • hard candy
  • popcorn

Swollen gums may last for up to a week when you first get your braces. Each time they are tightened, you may also experience pain and swelling for one to three days. Swollen gums that last longer than that should be examined by your dentist or orthodontist.

If gum swelling is accompanied by bleeding from an errant wire or braces that are cutting into them, let your dentist know. They will either adjust your braces or give you soft wax to protect the area.

Swollen gums are a common occurrence you can expect when you first get braces put on.

The gums may also swell and become tender after braces are tightened.

Having braces on your teeth may make it harder to take care of them. However, poor oral hygiene habits may lead to gum disease, which can also cause gum swelling. This can be avoided by brushing, flossing, and rinsing daily.