Preparing to get braces put on is an exciting and unnerving time for most. Those first few days or weeks of adjustment can be a learning curve, and we want to help everyone in your family feel prepared for this new adventure. One of the most frequently asked questions we hear from new orthodontic patients is, “How long will braces hurt after getting them?”
For most, minor soreness or irritation is expected. Braces can be uncomfortable, but once those first few days have passed, your mouth will begin to adjust to your new accessory.
Cheek and Lip Irritation
Brackets and wires can cause you to develop sores on your lips and cheeks in the early weeks of treatment. Orthodontic wax provided to you by your orthodontist can significantly help to relieve sore spots and irritation from your cheeks and lips.
After a short adjustment period, your mouth will start to develop “calluses” in those areas, toughening the delicate skin that comes the most into contact with your brackets and wires. After callusing, your cheeks and lips will be more immune to potential discomfort and irritation throughout your treatment plan.
Pain From Elastics
If you’re experiencing soreness from orthodontic bands that your orthodontist has prescribed, you might be tempted to forego elastics in an attempt to find relief. However, the progress of your tooth movement is dependent on these rubber bands. By not wearing elastics, you will prolong the improvement in your tooth alignment, and teeth may also begin to relapse, causing your treatment time to become extended.
The best way to reduce discomfort is to power through the first few days with help from over-the-counter pain relievers. After a few days, the tension should reduce drastically as your teeth shift more into place. If your elastics are still causing severe discomfort after a few days of wear, talk to your orthodontist. It may be possible to lessen the tension on your teeth so that the changes are not as drastic over a short period.
Managing Discomfort From Braces
Reducing pain and discomfort associated with braces is a common theme with orthodontic patients. Moving teeth into proper alignment cannot happen without some sacrifice. Always discuss your pain levels with your orthodontist during checkups. Here are some of the most recommended braces pain relief options that are safe for at-home use:
When you first get braces put on, your new patient supplies kit should have included a small amount of orthodontic wax. In a pinch, you can also purchase orthodontic wax at any drugstore in the oral care aisle. Simply pinch off a small piece of wax approximately the size of a pea. Gently roll the wax into a ball with your fingertips and then gently press the ball over the bracket or wire that is causing you discomfort. The smooth texture of the wax will provide relief to any raw areas inside your cheeks or lips.
Have a Protruding Wire Clipped
If a broken bracket or wire pushing into your cheek is causing you pain, you must see your orthodontist to have the wire clipped. Never attempt to cut a wire yourself at home as you could end up causing damage to your brackets, the remaining wire, or to your teeth. Utilize orthodontic wax to cover any sharp edges until your orthodontist can see you.
Warm Salt Water Rinse
A salt water rinse is an excellent solution for reducing swelling and irritation around sore areas in the mouth. If your gums appear to be swollen or bleeding, it can be from not cleaning correctly around your braces, causing gingivitis. Mix one teaspoon of table salt into an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Once the salt has dissolved, swish the solution in your mouth for 30-60 seconds. Doing this 3-4 times a day can drastically help to alleviate soreness until a dentist or orthodontist can see you.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen, is the best solution for short-term orthodontic pain relief. Always take the pain reliever as directed. If the pain persists for more than a few days without any improvement, call your orthodontist for an emergency checkup appointment to determine the source of the discomfort.
Remember: Braces Aren’t Always Painful
It is not a painful process to have braces put on by your orthodontist. The discomfort starts later when the tension between your teeth and the orthodontic appliances once they begin to shift teeth into proper alignment. For most, mild to moderate discomfort is all that happens, and actual pain is quite rare.
If, for any reason, you’re experiencing pain that is not subsiding after a few days, contact Thomas Orthodontics to schedule an exam.