Getting braces is almost a rite of passage. Over 80% of those who wear braces on their teeth are children or teenagers, but there are plenty of adults that wear them too. At the risk of stating the obvious, braces are an orthodontic treatment used to straighten and realign the teeth. Braces work to correct such problems like crooked teeth, overbites and underbites, incorrect jaw positioning, and overcrowding. Getting rid of these issues can protect the patient from other dental problems in the future. And as you can imagine, moving your permanent teeth into a more desirable position is bound to result in some soreness or discomfort. But if your teeth do hurt after getting braces, there are things you can do to ease the pain!
What To Expect When Getting Braces
One of the first questions everyone asks their orthodontist is – do braces hurt? Well, actually, getting braces applied to the teeth does not hurt. When you visit your orthodontist, the first thing they will do is apply some bands to your back molars. You may feel some pinching or pressure, but no pain. Then your orthodontist will apply glue to your teeth and put a metal bracket on each tooth. Once there is a bracket in place on each tooth, they will connect them together with wire and secure it all with elastic bands. The entire process will take under two hours. You will probably leave the office feeling just fine. However, after a few hours, you will start to experience some discomfort. This is because the braces put pressure on your teeth and gums to move them into proper alignment, and this takes some time to acclimate to.
The First Few Days
You will be dealing with some pain or discomfort when you first get your braces. In fact, the first few days will be the most uncomfortable. The pain associated with your braces will lessen in time, but during the first week, be prepared to experience some mild discomfort. The pain will feel like more of a dull ache than a sharp, acute type of pain. You may feel extra pain when chewing, so plan on eating soft foods and know that it may take longer to eat meals at the beginning. Your mouth also needs to get used to having the braces in the first place. You may even have some soreness on your inner cheeks and or some shallow cuts on your tongue from the wires cutting into the tissue. You can expect it to take about one month before you fully adjust to having your braces, and within six months you’ll likely not even notice they’re there!
Adjustments To The Braces
During the one to two years you have your braces, you will have regular follow-up orthodontic appointments every four to eight weeks. During these orthodontic appointments, adjustments are made to your braces so that your teeth are continually moving into correct alignment. These adjustments include bending the wires to make sure your braces are doing their job or exchanging lighter wires for heavier ones or vice versa. You’ll also have rubber bands that stretch from the top of your jaw to the bottom of your jaw to correct things such as crossbite and also to make sure that your teeth are moving properly. One of the most fun things about wearing braces is that you can change the color of your rubber bands to match your mood! Your teeth may feel some pain or discomfort associated with each adjustment, but it won’t last more than two or three days.
Tips For Relief
There are definitely ways to find relief from all that drama going on inside your mouth. Over the counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help when you get your braces, or after an adjustment. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can have a soothing effect and may help alleviate some of the pain or discomfort. You can also try and apply an ice pack to the outside of your mouth to reduce inflammation and numb some of the pain. If chewing is painful, stick to softer foods that don’t require a lot of pressure to eat. Good foods for the first few days are mashed potatoes, yogurt, and pasta. The coldness from eating ice cream can also soothe your mouth and take away some of the soreness.
If you find that you are developing mouth sores from the wires or brackets poking into places, you can use orthodontic wax. This is a special wax that helps protect your mouth from the brackets of your braces. Your orthodontist can teach you how to use the wax, which you apply to the brackets causing you discomfort. Just remember that you will have to take the wax off before brushing your teeth and then reapply it after your done.
When To See The Orthodontist
Braces hurt a little when they are new, or after an adjustment appointment, but it shouldn’t be more than an annoyance. This type of pain should be minor and people should be able to get relief using the techniques discussed above. If you find yourself in a large amount of pain that is resistant to home comfort measures, don’t hesitate to call your orthodontist. It’s also possible that your braces may break, or a wire can come loose and poke into your cheek or gum line. If any of these things happen to you, consider it an orthodontic emergency and make an appointment right away.
So, Do Braces Hurt Your Teeth?
The short answer is yes, but the benefits of getting braces far outweigh the mild soreness and discomfort associated with straightening your teeth. If your teeth hurt, a little over the counter pain medication goes a long way, or if you prefer a more natural route, ice and heat can work wonders. Braces fix a lot of alignment problems, relieve TMJ pressure on your joints and improve the aesthetics of your face and your smile. So if you need braces, take on the adventure and reap the benefits of that bright, beautiful smile! And don’t forget to stay on top of your routine dental visits. Regular cleanings are arguably even more important when you have braces. So schedule your appointment today!