Orthodontics When You Have Periodontitis

Braces work by attaching a stiff metal wire to your teeth (or by using a custom-made plastic appliance for Invisalign) and applying a small but steady pressure to your teeth. Your teeth can move because your bones are alive: the pressure tells the bone cells in the way to dissolve while the cells on the other side can grow into the gap.

But while that works just fine under normal conditions, it can become an issue if you have periodontitis. This is the name for an advanced gum infection, the next stage after gingivitis, and one of the main symptoms is receding gums and jawbone. If it goes on for too long it can even make your teeth come loose and fall out as the bone that anchored them disappears.

So you can see how straightening your teeth can cause problems when you have advanced periodontitis. The infection can prevent your jaw from building new bone where your teeth have moved, making it more likely that a tooth that moved will come loose.

But while braces and untreated periodontitis shouldn’t mix, you have every reason to straighten your teeth once you have a handle on the infection. Not only do straight teeth give you a better smile and a more even bite, they’re also easier to care for than when one or more teeth are too far off center. They’re also less likely to fall out from bone loss in the long run since their roots are pointed straight into the jawbone instead of off at an angle.

If one of your teeth does end up falling out and you need a dental implant to replace it, that’s something else you should think about when you plan on straightening your teeth. Dental implants can do a lot of things like a normal tooth, more than what dentures offer, but the titanium screw that anchors to your jawbone doesn’t move around the way a natural tooth root does. Because of this, you may want to hold off on getting that implant until after your other teeth are where they ought to be. Until then, you can use some temporary dentures.

Periodontitis is something you should treat as soon as you know it’s there, and it’s also something that should delay your visit to an orthodontist because of how it can eat away at your bone structure. But once the disease is under control, there’s nothing stopping you from correcting your bite.