If you remember, we considered the serious charges that orthodontic treatment causes your gums to disintegrate. We talked about how that article was flawed. Now we have more scientific evidence to show that, overall, orthodontic treatment reduces your risk of gum disease. The risk of gum disease in later years may be cut almost in half if you get braces.
A Large, National Study
For this study, researchers were looking at the results from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES). KNHANES surveyed nearly 15,000 people about their diet, exercise habits, overall health, and lifestyle choices. In addition, each subject was given an abbreviated dental exam to determine whether they had gum disease, defined as 3.5 mm (about ⅛ inch) pocket depth around the teeth. Gum disease increases the depth of periodontal pockets as the bacteria excrete acid and irritants into the space between gums and teeth.
Researchers then looked at the risk of gum disease for people who had previously had orthodontic treatment and compared it to those who hadn’t, finding that the results were significant: orthodontic treatment reduced the risk of gum disease.
A Benefit at Any Age Group
In attacking orthodontics, the claim was made that people would experience degenerating gums over time as a result of orthodontic treatment, leading ultimately to tooth loss at older ages. But that just isn’t supported by the science.
One of the advantages of a large survey like this one is that it gives us enough data to make conclusions about effects in groups of different ages and lifestyles. This data clearly shows that for every age group, orthodontics led to a reduction in gum disease risk. If anything, the benefit increased as people got older, with the age group of 60 and over having the largest absolute difference in gum disease risk between those who had orthodontics and those who didn’t.
One of the models quantified the overall risk of gum disease to be 45% lower for people who got orthodontics, compared to those who didn’t.
Why Orthodontics Can Improve Oral Health
Many people think that orthodontics is just a cosmetic dentistry procedure, but as this study shows, it can dramatically improve your oral health as well. The study can’t tell us why orthodontics reduces the gum disease risk, but we have several possible explanations.
One reason for the improvement is very straightforward: there are fewer places for food to get stuck when your teeth are straight. Food stuck in your teeth feeds oral bacteria over time, allowing the populations to flourish, worsening gum disease.
Straightening teeth also makes it easier to clean between them. Brushing and flossing is more effective, which means that more of the oral bacteria gets removed, protecting your teeth and gums better.
Finally, it’s likely that the challenge of cleaning teeth with braces has an impact, too. When people wear braces, they often develop more thorough oral hygiene habits than those who didn’t have braces. Braces may be removed, but for many people the habits remain, leading to more thorough cleaning of teeth for life, reducing gum disease risk.
Are You Interested in Orthodontics in Orange County, NY?
Are you considering orthodontics in Orange County, NY? If so, consider Harriman Family Dental. Our expert cosmetic dentists can help you get the best results with a variety of orthodontic treatments, including Invisalign and Six Month Smiles.
Please call (845) 783-6466 today for an appointment.