Your child’s decision to get braces is an important one — and one that will yield beautiful results when treatment is completed. That’s not to say, however, that wearing braces won’t be uncomfortable at times, especially after having the wires adjusted.
Frequent follow-up visits with the orthodontist, usually every four to six weeks, are necessary to monitor progress and adjust wires to ensure that the teeth are moving toward their final, target positions.
During these visits, the orthodontist may tighten, bend or replace the thin, metal archwire that runs from bracket to bracket. The elastic ties that hold the brackets on the arch wires may also be replaced. The added pressure on the teeth and gums from the tightened wires is what causes discomfort and irritation to occur.
What to Expect
Following an adjustment appointment, it’s not uncommon for a patient to experience inflammation, mild bleeding or tooth sensitivity. The level of discomfort will vary for each patient and could last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
While wearing braces can cause mild discomfort, the pain is normal and only temporary. The good news is that there are many simple ways to help ease the pain. Here are a few ways to manage pain and discomfort caused by braces. Learn more about what to expect.
Tips to Reduce Braces Pain
USE ICE PACKS.
Ice works the same for your aching mouth as it does for other injured parts of your body. If your newly tightened braces are causing soreness in your mouth, apply a cold ice pack to the area of discomfort. Ice decreases inflammation and swelling to help reduce pain.
REACH FOR COLD FOODS AND DRINKS.
Similar to ice packs, popsicles and ice cream not only taste delicious, but can help ease pain by numbing your mouth and reducing inflammation. Always brush after eating any sugary treats to prevent decay. You can also simply suck on an ice cube or sip iced water for relief.
SWISH WITH SALT WATER.
Sometimes sores can develop along the gums and cheeks as they adapt to tightened wires. Swishing for one minute with a warm salt-water solution will help reduce infection and alleviate soreness caused by irritation from the braces.
APPLY ORTHODONTIC WAX.
Some patients experience irritation on the inner cheeks, lips and gums when wearing braces. To prevent and alleviate pain caused by metal wires and brackets, your orthodontist can provide soft, orthodontic wax that is applied over the braces as needed.
MODIFY YOUR DIET.
When you have your braces tightened, your teeth and gums may be sensitive, which makes eating food painful. For this reason, it is best to avoid hard, crunchy foods such as chips and raw vegetables. Instead, choose soft foods and liquids, like mashed potatoes, soups, smoothies and yogurt, which don’t require a lot of chewing. Once your teeth have adjusted and pain has subsided, you will be able to resume normal eating habits as usual.
TAKE AN OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN RELIEVER.
Pain that cannot be relieved with the above measures may benefit from over-the-counter pain medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, which help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Patients should always check with their doctor first, and follow the instructions for dosage.
Oral anesthetics, like Orajel, can also be applied directly to the teeth and gums with a cotton swab or finger if pain is present. Orajel comes in gel form and helps desensitize the specific area in your mouth that is hurting as a result of your shifting teeth. This method of pain relief is especially helpful at bedtime when you are trying to rest.
TAKE TIME TO ADJUST.
Lastly, remember that discomfort caused by braces will eventually resolve as your teeth adapt to the new braces and newly adjusted braces. While not pleasant, the discomfort you are experiencing is normal as your teeth shift toward their final, optimal position. You may experience mild pain for a few days, but the end result will be well worth it — a beautiful, perfectly aligned smile.
Parents should also encourage their child to continue practicing excellent oral hygiene, even through discomfort, as it is especially important to keep teeth and gums clean while wearing braces.
The End Result- Making It Through Braces Pain
Braces are one of the most effective ways to improve the appearance and functionality of teeth. While wearing braces can be painful, it doesn’t have to be unbearable. For additional methods on how to relieve braces pain, talk your child’s orthodontist.
It’s not unusual for kids and teens to experience mild discomfort while wearing braces, but with these simple tips, parents can help manage the pain so that their children can be on their way to healthier, more beautiful smiles in no time.
We are here to help you through this process. Contact Burrow & Welchel Orthodontics today with any questions you may have about these tips. Give us a call at (704) 334-7202 or send us a message.
Dr. Sam Burrow D.D.S., D.M.D. - Dr. Burrow was born in Charlotte and moved to Charleston to obtain a Bachelors of Science in Biology at the College of Charleston. He graduated magna cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, and then stayed to earn a D.M.D. with honors at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Burrow completed his orthodontic residency at University of Detroit Mercy in Michigan and is now in practice with his father at Burrow Orthodontics in the Charlotte area.