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Can I Get Clear Aligners If I’ve Had Gum Disease?

By Kristen Gasnick
Gum disease must be treated and managed before starting treatment with clear aligners to avoid permanent damage to your teeth.

Gum disease can cause gum inflammation, pain, and infection. If left untreated, it may interfere with your ability to use clear aligners for teeth straightening. 

Invisible Aligners and Gum Disease

Gum disease develops from the accumulation of bacteria and plaque on your teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the earliest stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, meaning inflammation of the gums, which can cause swelling and bleeding with brushing or flossing. If treated early, you can reverse gingivitis without causing significant long-term damage to your teeth and gums.

If you do not treat gingivitis properly, it can progress to a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis, which causes gum infection. This infection can damage or destroy bone, leading to tooth loosening or tooth loss. 

Because advanced gum disease can weaken your jaw bone and the supporting structures of your teeth, your teeth can become unstable, making orthodontic treatment dangerous. “If the teeth are unstable and the gums and bone are inflamed, orthodontic treatment can cause acceleration of bone loss,” Paul Springs, DMD, a prosthodontist at Timeless Dentistry in Queens, New York, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

While gum disease can come and go throughout your lifetime based on your oral hygiene habits, you should effectively manage it before starting teeth straightening with clear aligners.

“People with a history of gum disease can have orthodontic treatment, but they should not do so until the gums are healthy and stable, and even then they should be closely supervised by a dentist or orthodontist while getting treatment in order to confirm that their gum disease is arrested,” Springs says. 

Once your gum disease is under control, teeth straightening with clear aligners can be more effective than other orthodontic treatments, like traditional metal braces, for preventing gum disease. Food particles can easily become stuck between metal braces, trapping bacteria and making brushing and flossing very difficult. Because you can remove clear aligners for cleaning, maintaining good oral hygiene is often much easier. “The close-fitting trays can also be used as carriers for antibacterial agents,” Springs says, which can decrease the risk of periodontal disease. 

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