When Braces Aren’t an Option

Everyone can wear braces, right?


Many people think of braces as tools to straighten teeth on young people in order to ensure that they have lovely smiles and great bites as they grow older. Yet many adults today are using braces to give themselves that perfect smile.

And while just about everyone – no matter how crooked their teeth may be – can be a candidate for braces, not everyone is:

Your jaw bones and gums must be in fairly good health to accommodate braces. If you have considerable gum recession, if your gums are unhealthy or if you have bone loss in your jaw, you may not be a good candidate for braces.

So what can you do if you’re teeth are crooked and you’d like to see them straightened, but your gums/bones aren’t healthy enough for braces?

Your first step is to tackle the main problem: your bones and gums aren’t healthy!


You really want braces so that you can have lovely, straight teeth. But unless your gums and jaw bones are healthy, braces may not be in your future.

Let’s start with your gums. If they aren’t healthy, you undoubtedly have either gingivitis (gum disease) or – and far more likely since your gums aren’t healthy enough for braces – the advanced form of gum disease, known as periodontal disease or periodontitis.

Treatments for periodontitis can include non-surgical procedures such as scaling and tooth planing, which is done with a local anesthetic when your dentist has determined that hardened plaque (tartar) on your teeth’s roots and gums needs to be removed. The dentist scrapes off (scaling) the rough spots on your teeth and makes your teeth roots smooth (planing). Doing so gets rid of bacteria and provides a clean surface for your gums to reattach to your teeth.

Surgical treatments for periodontitis can include flap surgery, in which the dentist lifts back you gums and removes tartar, and then places the gums so that they fit tightly against your teeth. Another treatment, known as a soft tissue graft, is one in which your dentist removes tissue from the roof of your mouth and then grafts (stitches) it onto places where your gums have receded.

As for weak bones, your dentist may decide to graft some bits of your healthy bone, use donated bone or synthetic bone to replace the bone destroyed by your gum disease. These grafts act as a platform from which new bone growth can emerge, thus strengthening/stabilizing the bones in your mouth/jaw.

Your dentist may elect to perform bone surgery, in which he smoothes the shallow craters that may have formed in your bone because of advanced or moderate bone loss. Bone surgery usually is performed after flap surgery, when he reshapes the bone that surrounds your tooth in order to minimize the craters, thus making it harder for bacteria to collect there and grow.

None of the above procedures is at all pleasant. Yet all can be easily avoided – and braces worn for straighter teeth – so long as you follow the guidelines you know so well: brush twice a day, floss at least once a day and visit a dentist two times a year for professional cleaning.

If you’d like more information on undergoing teeth straightening or how to better improve your overall oral health, contact Plano dentist Dr. Darren Dickson by phone.

Image courtesy of gameanna/

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