One of the most common questions that orthodontists get asked is whether or not braces hurt. The simple answer to this question is- NO! While there may be some discomfort involved with braces, especially at the beginning when they are new, braces are typically not a true source of pain. While the discomforts involved with braces can vary greatly from person to person, there are a few constants that remain the same.
Will getting my braces hurt?
It shouldn’t! Luckily for orthodontic patients, the process of getting braces is typically painless. There should be minimal discomfort experienced while your orthodontist attaches the orthodontic appliances to teeth. Orthodontic bands and braces are “glued” on to the teeth, so the process is non-invasive. Additionally, the placement of the orthodontic wire is accomplished by simply attaching it to the brackets with a little elastic band which is a painless process.
Will braces hurt once they are placed?
While the actual placement of the braces is a breeze, a bit of discomfort may be felt for the next couple of days. This is completely normal, and is just your teeth feeling pressure as tooth movement begins. This discomfort is not long lasting, and generally subsides within a few days to a week.
You may also feel a bit of soreness in the days following your orthodontic adjustment visits, but this too will subside quickly, and you’ll be back to normal in no time.
Braces may also cause some irritation inside the mouth, inside the lips and cheeks as the new hardware can rub on these areas. This is also generally temporary, as the mouth eventually becomes accustomed to the braces.
As mentioned, there is quite a bit of individual variation and some people even experience no discomfort throughout their entire treatment. For the ones who do, it is often described as very minor.
What causes potential discomfort with braces?
If you do find that your teeth are sensitive or sore following orthodontic visit, it’s not such a bad thing- it means your teeth are moving!
Braces move your teeth by applying pressure in certain areas, which then move your teeth into their newer, straighter positions. It is the action of the wire in the brackets which causes tooth movement and subsequent pressure areas. And it is the pressure which causes the sore feeling in your teeth.
Unlike a toothache caused by a cavity, which can be intense and highly painful, this soreness or discomfort from braces tooth movement should be minor, and typically goes away after a few days.
Three ways to limit the discomfort with Braces
While most people find that they don’t need to do anything at all, and that the discomfort does not interfere with their daily lives, there are a few things that you can do to minimize any soreness that you do feel after having your braces placed or adjusted.
1. Take an over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol®.
We suggest taking acetaminophen (Tylenol®, for example) for this soreness, as other pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin can slow down tooth movement. It is important to take this medication only as needed and to follow proper dosage instructions.
2. Eat soft foods
Hard or chewy foods can be challenging to eat while you’re experiencing discomfort, so try to limit anything that requires you to chew more, or harder, than you feel comfortable with. Sticking to softer foods such as pasta, eggs, mashed potatoes, and yogurt can help you prevent any additional unwanted discomfort.
3. Use any extras that your orthodontist gives you
As mentioned, sometimes braces can irritate the inside of your cheeks or lips. Your orthodontist can supply you with a dental wax which can be applied to any irritated areas you may find in your mouth as a result of the braces. This wax helps to smooth out sharp areas, and any irritation should subside as a result. Certain mouthrinses can also be helpful for areas of irritation.
While it’s true that braces can cause discomfort at times during treatment, many patients refer to it as “annoying” rather than “inhibiting”, and following the steps mentioned above should help you on your way to a straighter smile without the discomfort!