Orthodontic braces have come a long way over the years. They are smaller, faster and, in some ways, less painful than they were decades ago. The one thing that hasn’t changed, of course, is that they move your teeth. It is not
possible at this time to accomplish this purpose in a completely pain-free way, but there is also no need to believe any horror story you have heard about excruciating, constant pain.
There was a time when the process of having braces put on involved forcing a metal band around each tooth, rather like putting rings on your fingers. These bands held the brackets that the wires were threaded through. This process was painful, as you can imagine, because space for two thicknesses of metal had to be created between every tooth and its neighbor before the actual straightening even began.
Fortunately, the attachment phase for braces has been refined substantially over the years. Today, each small bracket is cemented independently to the surface of the tooth. This process is relatively quick and painless. The only discomfort you should experience is the same you would expect from a routine cleaning: having your lips stretched and having your mouth prodded with instruments.
The First Few Days
Once the wires have been threaded through the brackets on your teeth, they will begin to exert tension. This pressure is what makes the teeth move, and it inevitably causes discomfort.
How much pain you will feel is very individualized. For some people, the pain is a dull ache, like a mildly sore muscle. For others, it is more intense, like severe shin splints. Age is also a factor. Adults and teens may tolerate orthodontic pain better than young children because they fully understand what is happening.
The good news is that whether you feel pain a little or a lot, it will only last a few days. Each time you return to your orthodontist to have the wires adjusted, your teeth will be sore for a few days. Many people find that the pain lessens after the first few appointments.
Scratches and Scrapes
Besides the pain caused by tension, orthodontic braces can cause occasional pain to your cheeks and tongue by direct contact.
Metal braces may have sharp corners or edges, and sometimes, simply the act of chewing or running your tongue over your teeth will cause the braces to scrape or nick your cheeks or tongue. If there is one particular trouble spot, talk to your orthodontist and see if there is an adjustment that can be made. Otherwise, see some of the tips below for ideas on how to ease this problem.
Sometimes it is a wire that is causing the pain. This is usually due to the back of your cheek getting caught on the end of the wire that protrudes past the very last bracket. This is an easy fix: the wire can simply be snipped off shorter during a quick stop at the orthodontist’s office.
Are Nontraditional Braces Less Painful?
At this point, you may be thinking that it would be a good idea to just avoid traditional metal braces altogether. After all, there are alternatives that don’t have metal brackets and wires.
We do offer nonmetal alternatives, like the popular Invisalign product. While many people choose this option because they feel it is more appealing cosmetically, it is not painless. Most of the pain associated with braces is caused by the pressure necessary to move your teeth, and Invisalign is just another way to impose that pressure.
Invisalign works by using a series of plastic trays. Every few weeks you transition to a new tray that is closer to the final placement of your teeth. Just like when you have the wires tightened on metal braces, every time you begin using a new Invisalign tray your teeth will ache for a few days.
There are many reasons why you may prefer one style of braces over another or why one may be a better choice for you; unfortunately, there is no getting around the fact that moving your teeth is going to hurt a little.
How to Beat the Pain
There are a number of ways to lessen the pain associated with orthodontic braces. This is a good list to keep on hand if you have braces now or plan to get them in the future.
- Choose your food wisely. You can enjoy most foods when you are wearing braces, but when your teeth are particularly sore you should favor softer foods. Biting down on something hard or crunchy will be painful in the same way that jabbing a sore muscle makes it hurt worse.
- Use over-the-counter painkillers. Whatever OTC medications you take for everyday sorts of pain, like Advil or Tylenol, will offer relief from dental pain. You should not need to take prescription painkillers.
- Rinse with salt water. For the kinds of scrapes and sores that you may get on the insides of your cheeks, warm salt water is a welcome balm. Rinsing three times a day will cleanse and aid healing.
- Try over-the-counter oral pain medication. Your local drug store has a variety of products that are designed to
apply directly to mouth sores. If you feel you need something stronger than salt water, you might get relief with one of these.
- Keep wax handy. You should get a pack of dental wax when your braces are applied. Its purpose is to smooth over any rough spots on your braces that are scratching your mouth. To use it, just pinch off a small bit and press it onto your braces at the trouble spot.
Any More Questions? Please Ask!
Team Demas Orthodontics is happy to answer any question you have about orthodontic braces. Whether you need braces for adults in Southington, orthodontic appliances in Southington, or help deciding just what exactly you do need, we have the answers. Give us a call or stop by one of our offices and begin your journey to your best smile.
Team Demas Orthodontics
27 Meriden Ave #2a, Southington, CT 06489, USA