Does it hurt when you get braces?
Getting braces is a sure way to straighten your teeth, close up gaps between teeth, and correct bite issues. But most people who have had them often complain about the pain of having them on.
Before it discourages you from getting braces, you should be reminded that pain is different for everyone. Discomfort or pain may be a common experience when it comes to braces but not everyone will experience it.
But why do braces hurt? And does everybody have to go through pain?
In this article, we will discuss how braces work, and even though each person will have a different pain experience, we will provide a general idea of what kind of pain does one has to endure when wearing them.
How braces work on your teeth
Braces exert force on your teeth with the help of a system of wires connected to brackets cemented on the surface of your teeth. The wires will push or pull the brackets to move your teeth slowly through your soft gum tissues.
Braces need to be adjusted from time to time. The adjustments usually take every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the gravity of your dental issue. This gives enough time for the braces to exert force to reach a certain placement.
Adjustments or tightenings are necessary because as your teeth move closer, the braces will lose their force. When this happens, the orthodontist will have to tighten your braces in order to create pressure once more. This has to be repeated until your teeth finally reach their correct position.
The orthodontist will tighten your braces by adjusting the wire and springs and replacing the old rubber bands with new ones.
Getting braces and how does it feel
When the orthodontist fits your teeth for braces, you will not experience any pain. This is why you should not fear your braces appointment.
Some patients will be asked to wear separators or spacers between their teeth for a week or two before they can get their braces. These separators or spacers will feel tight and sore for a few days. It is not painful but it can be uncomfortable – like you have food caught between your teeth.
When you get to the big day of getting your braces, your orthodontist will start off by attaching the bands around your back molars. This can be uncomfortable because the pressure will be used. Some patients would feel some pinching but it is usually not painful.
Once the bands are attached to your molars, the orthodontist will then clean your teeth. The solution that the orthodontist will use will taste sour. They will then wash that solution off and start applying glue to your teeth. This could be uncomfortable because of the taste but there will be no pain involved during this phase.
The orthodontist will then mount the brackets to each tooth. They will then use blue light to harden the glue. This process will have no pain.
Next, when the brackets are glued into place, the orthodontist will connect the brackets together with a wire. The end of the wire will be attached to the bands on your molars. The final step is to hold the wire in place with the use of elastic bands.
The entire process to have braces put on your teeth will take anywhere between one and three hours. As you can see, putting the braces on does not really involve pain. So, there is no reason to be nervous while you are at your orthodontist’s office.
The pain will usually kick in after a few hours of getting your braces. This is because you will start feeling the pressure that the braces are putting on your teeth to move them into the right placement.
Your teeth will feel sensitive and there may be gum inflammation at this point. Patients report that this pain could last for a few days or a week.
What does braces pain feel like?
The force exerted is not heavy. It is actually just a small, gradual, and constant pressure. But it is enough to make your teeth and gums more sensitive.
For some people, they do not notice any pain – just discomfort. Braces do feel uncomfortable because your mouth is not used to having wires and brackets in it. Sometimes the edges of the bracket might feel sharp. Sometimes a wire gets loose and will poke into your gums or cheeks.
Most of the time, you will notice a dull pain at first but the pain becomes more noticeable when you bite into something solid. To give you a solid idea, here is a list of the normal types of pain or discomfort most patients go through after getting their braces:
- Pressure on the teeth
- Inflammed or swollen gums
- Irritated gums, lips, or cheeks
- Jaw tension
- Tooth sensitivity to cold and hot food
- Difficulty chewing
- Teeth feeling lose
Everything listed above is normal and appropriate responses of your body to the braces. In most cases, these situations will fade away once your mouth adjusts to the new orthodontic appliance on your teeth.
Why do braces hurt at first?
Patients often ask if braces hurt when you first get them. The truth is that it will hurt for most cases although how much pain you will feel will depend on your pain tolerance and the skills of our orthodontist.
But braces will most likely hurt when you first get them because this is a crucial moment – this is the time when they will use the most force on your teeth.
When you first get your braces, your teeth’s positions are still far from the right positions they should be. Because of this, there will be more pressure exerted in pulling or pushing them into place.
The pain is usually present when you first get braces and when you get them tightened. In fact, every time you get your braces tightened, it will feel like the first day of having braces on.
The good news is that the pain is temporary. It will subside as the force needed to move your teeth lessens.
How to deal with braces pain?
If the pain is constant and really bad, you can use over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help counter pain. But remember, you can only use these drugs in moderation.
This is a topical numbing analgesic that you can use on your teeth or gums to counter pain and desensitize your mouth. You can apply this using a cotton swab or your finger.
This is a medical-grade clear wax and this is usually placed over any wire or bracket that is bothering your mouth. You can get this from your orthodontist.
Warm salt water rinse
To reduce inflammation, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater. All you have to do is add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water. Swish it around your mouth and then spit it out. This rinse will serve as an antiseptic and can also helo clean sore spots and cuts in your mouth.
Chew on something
If you can, try chewing on something that is not too crunchy or hard like a banana or a soft bread. Studies have shown that brace pain may also be caused by a reduction in blood flow. Chewing can help stimulate the blood flow and lessen the pain.
How to know if the pain is not normal?
Pain is normal with braces but there are instances when pain means that something has gone wrong. If you notice the following while you are in pain, you should immediately see your orthodontist:
- Sudden, sharp pain on your gums or in a particular tooth
- A protruding wire that causes a poking or stabbing pain
- Loose brackets
- Pain that lasts for five days after you had your braces tightened
- Going through extreme sensitivity when consuming cold or hot foods
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do braces hurt after getting them?
If the pain goes beyond that, then you should contact your orthodontist and have your teeth and braces checked out.
Why does it hurt when braces are tightened?
After tightening, the pain is usually focused on your teeth and gums. By this time, your cheeks and tongue would be used to the braces so tightening will not affect them.
Why do braces hurt my cheeks?
But give it a few days and be patient – soft tissues can adapt quickly. Once your cheeks get used to the brackets, you will hardly feel any pain.
If the pain really bothers you, you can ask for orthodontal wax. The wax can cover the bracket that is causing you trouble and will help lessen the pain you feel. If you are buying it over-the-counter, make sure that the bracket is totally dry before you apply the wax so that it would stick well.
Does it hurt when my braces are removed?
When your braces are removed, the orthodontist will use a specialized tool to remove the brackets and scrape off the bonding glue from your teeth. The metal bands and wires will also be loosened so that they can be removed easily.
Will my braces interfere with my daily activities or work?
Some patients need to take the day off when they first get their braces or when they have it tightened because they feel unbearable pain. However, some patients are able to carry on with their daily routine without any problem at all.
What type of food should I avoid while wearing braces?
You should also never chew gum or consume sticky candy while you have braces on because they would be hard to clean off if they get stuck in your braces. When left uncleaned, this could lead to tooth decay and more pain for you to deal with.
What can I do to prepare for the pain?
Eat very soft foods or liquids. Your teeth and gums will be very sensitive during this time. Even biting into bread will be very uncomfortable. Stick to eating soft foods like soup, pudding, stew, yogurt, oatmeal, jello, smoothies, and other liquids or soft food.
Keep cold things on hand. The cold can help numb your mouth and make you forget about the pain and the soreness. Have a cold pack ready in the freezer or stock up on cold treats like ice cream or popsicles.
Sip on ice-cold water. If you do not have an ice pack at home or you do not want the added calories of iced treats, you can get pain relief by sipping on a glass of ice-cold water. This can numb your mouth enough to help relieve the pain and discomfort.
Schedule out your brace tightenings. To get you out of a very uncomfortable situation, always check your schedule before you make an appointment with the orthodontist for your brace tightenings. Avoid having them on days where you would need to speak a lot or if there is a special occasion coming up.
To make the long story short, braces hurt because they are putting pressure on your teeth as it exerts force to pull or push them into the right position. Because of this pressure, your teeth and gums end up becoming more sensitive than usual, and with that sensitivity comes pain and discomfort.
Pain is a normal thing when it comes to braces but remember, pain is very subjective. While some describe the pain as unbearable, some barely mind it at all. It all depends on your pain tolerance.
One thing is for sure – you will know the pain and the discomfort you will be feeling throughout the treatment will be worth it when your braces come off and you get to see your better, beautiful smile.