4 Things Braces Wearers Need To Know About Frictional Hyperkeratosis

Braces can straighten your teeth and correct any bite issues that you have, but they can also lead to a variety of complications inside your mouth. One possible complication associated with braces is frictional hyperkeratosis. Here are four things you need to know about frictional hyperkeratosis.

What is frictional hyperkeratosis?

Frictional hyperkeratosis is a condition characterized by the development of white patches on your oral tissues in response to friction or trauma. These patches are generally translucent-to-opaque and have well-defined borders. If you touch the patch, you'll notice that it feels rough, like a callus on your skin.

The lesions may be painless, but if the same area is subjected to repeated trauma, it may become sore and swollen. The area may also burn or sting.

How do braces cause it?

Frictional hyperkeratosis is caused by repeated rubbing or other trauma, and in that way, is similar to a callus on your skin. These lesions may be caused by the friction of your brackets rubbing against your cheeks when you chew or talk. They can also develop if one of your brackets or wires is broken or has a sharp edge that continuously damages the adjacent tissues.

Is frictional hyperkeratosis serious?

This condition is annoying, but it's not serious. The main issue it poses is that people with painful lesions may have trouble brushing their teeth, which can lead to well-known complications like cavities. If your lesions are painful and you're having trouble keeping your teeth clean, make sure to see your orthodontist.

How can your orthodontist help?

Your orthodontist will examine your braces to make sure that none of the brackets are broken or sharp and that no wires are poking your tissues. If these issues are found, your orthodontist will repair your braces.

If your braces are in good repair, and it is friction rather than trauma that is causing your lesions, your orthodontist may recommend using dental wax. Dental wax is braces-safe and is meant to be molded onto your brackets as needed to ease friction. Your saliva will wash away the wax within a few hours, so make sure to always carry your dental wax with you so you can reapply it on the go.

Once the source of friction or trauma has been removed, your lesions will heal by themselves. If the lesions are painful, your orthodontist may recommend using an anesthetic mouth rinse to numb the pain while you wait for them to heal.

If you have braces and are worried about frictional hyperkeratosis, talk to an orthodontist, such as John C. Matunas D.D.S., PA.