Can Orthodontic Treatment be Harmful to my Oral Health?

Orthodontic treatment has a great reputation for paving the way toward improving oral health long term.

But before beginning orthodontic treatment, other needs may need to be addressed to avoid worsening other serious dental issues you may have. Being aware of all dental conditions, pros and cons, and potential outcomes can help you to make an informed decision.

Bone levels around teeth play an important role during Invisalign treatment, says Dr. Robert Walley, a
San Francisco Invisalign dentist. Gum health also is paramount during Invisalign treatment because the teeth are moving within the jawbone and untreated periodontal disease can lead to bone loss around
the teeth.

According to the Center of Disease Control, half of Americans age 30 or older have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. It is essential to get periodontal disease under control to avoid aggravating and worsening the condition of the gums and bone. Untreated periodontal disease also contributes to gum recession, bad breath, tooth sensitivity and tooth loss. In addition to other dental conditions, untreated periodontal disease contributes to a variety of health complications including (but not limited to) heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. 

Existing bone loss does not make Invisalign treatment impossible. Invisalign treatment actually can help to stimulate bone growth in areas damaged by periodontal disease. A full assessment by Dr. Walley allows us to identify periodontal disease, treat the disease, and align teeth to give you a lasting,
healthy smile.

“Our first step when we’ve identified periodontal disease in a patient seeking Invisalign treatment is to treat the disease,” Dr. Walley says. “The reason the bad bacteria are causing gum disease is because the teeth don’t fit together properly.”

Gum disease treatment involves deep cleanings, also referred to as scaling and root planing, where we remove calculus and tartar from beneath the gums and on the surfaces of your teeth’s roots. We often follow that with antibacterial treatment to suppress the bad bacteria present in your mouth. More frequent cleanings may be necessary to manage the disease adequately. In some cases, probiotics may be recommended to help replace some of the harmful bacteria with healthy bacteria.

Benefits of Treatment

Now let’s get to the benefits of treatment, because they are numerous!

“When you make everything fit, teeth don’t get dirty, they don’t get cavities, and you don’t get gum disease,” Dr. Walley says. “The key is getting the teeth into alignment so they stay clean. This truly is one of the most magnificent things I’ve seen in 44 years.”

Teeth that aren’t in proper alignment can create areas where food debris can collect and lead to tartar buildup. That can usher in tooth decay and periodontal disease. Getting your teeth into alignment with Invisalign eliminates those areas and makes it easier for you to keep your teeth clean.

Properly aligning your teeth also helps improve your bite, which can prevent abnormal tooth wear.

While it is true that moving the teeth slightly breaks down the bone, another benefit of Invisalign treatment is the stimulation of new bone growth as well.In the eight years he has treated patients with Invisalign, Dr. Walley has witnessed numerous cases where bone regrowth was achieved and the signs of periodontal disease disappeared.

“Not everyone’s gum disease will go away after periodontal and orthodontic treatment, but it can remain under control and not worsen,” Dr. Walley says.

The nature of Invisalign treatment offers dental hygiene benefits over conventional orthodontic brackets and arch wires. The aligners are removable, which means you can take them out to brush and floss. Having conventional braces means you need special floss threaders, proxy brushes and other utensils to clean around and between brackets and arch wires. Those appliances create even more areas in which food can become stuck.

Please call us if you suspect you have periodontal disease, as we offer special periodontal cleanings designed to help you manage the disease. We also invite you to call if you’re interested in learning more about Invisalign treatment and ways to improve your oral health. We offer a comprehensive evaluation that includes treatment plan recommendations.