Can Clear Aligners Improve Periodontal Health?

Patient with Periodontal Disease Inserting Her Clear Aligners

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, impacts many dental patients across the globe.

According to the CDC, 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease, and 70.1% of adults 65 years and older struggle with periodontal disease.

It may surprise you to learn that patients with periodontal disease can benefit from undergoing clear aligner therapy, such as those with Invisalign clear aligners. Clear aligner therapy has been shown to improve periodontal health thanks to a variety of different factors.

This guide will describe periodontal health, how clear aligners can contribute to periodontal health, how to improve your periodontal health in general, and answer many common questions dental patients like you may have about periodontal disease and clear aligners.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease involves any disease that targets your gums or the surrounding bone. This includes:

  • Gum inflammation (gingivitis)
  • Gum infection
  • Periodontitis
  • Bone loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Tartar buildup
  • And more

Periodontal disease can be avoided by regularly and adequately brushing and flossing.

Warning Signs and Risk Factors of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease won’t sneak up on you – there are many warning signs that make it plainly obvious as to what is going on in your mouth. This is especially the case if you know your brushing and flossing routine is lacking. Warning signs include:

  • Awful smelling or tasting breath that won’t go away
  • Gums that are any of the following: inflamed, swollen, tender, and/or bleeding
  • It hurts to chew
  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures

Certain external and internal factors may increase your risk for periodontal disease, including:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Crooked or misaligned teeth
  • Family medical history
  • Immunodeficiency disorders
  • Lackluster oral hygiene routine
  • Dry mouth caused by medication
  • Unkept restorative dentistry (crowns, bridges, fillings, etc.)

However, suffering from a periodontal disease won’t stop you from undergoing orthodontic treatment as long as it is under control.

How Do Clear Aligners Improve Periodontal Health?

Orthodontic treatment can improve periodontal health by moving teeth into the proper positions. Now that your teeth now properly aligned, saliva generation and the ability to clean your teeth effectively will improve. This is why your dentist will recommend orthodontic treatment when your teeth are misaligned – it will make it easier to give you a happy, healthy mind, body, and smile.

Studies have shown that patients wearing clear aligners, like the Invisalign system, have improved periodontal health when compared to patients wearing fixed appliances, like metal and ceramic braces. This is due to the nature of both appliances.

Clear aligners are removable, allowing patients to brush, floss, and rinse just like they would without any orthodontic appliances. Fixed appliances cannot be removed without doctor intervention and create opportunities for debris to get stuck between brackets, wires, and teeth, which can then lead to plaque buildup if left unchecked.

For many patients at high risk of periodontal disease, clear aligners offer the superior treatment option and should be considered over fixed appliances.

How Can I Prevent Periodontal Disease?

The easiest way to prevent periodontal disease is by routinely and adequately brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Use an electric toothbrush and a water flosser for optimal results.

If you are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment, especially with a fixed appliance like braces, it would be wise to take extra time to make sure any food residue is not trapped between your bracket and wires.