One of the first things people getting braces wonder is, “Do Braces Hurt?” The short answer is no, but you experience discomfort. It doesn’t hurt when the doctor affixes the brackets. Your mouth will feel “funny” because of the extra hardware. Let’s look at how braces work.

How Braces Work (Honest, Braces Don’t Hurt)

Braces work using the principle of tension to create the necessary force to move teeth. To apply the tension, you need brackets and an archwire. The doctor affixes brackets to your teeth using a dental bond (glue). That part doesn’t hurt at all. The brackets might feel odd against the inside of your lips and cheeks.

The archwire threads through all the brackets. It is locked in place by clamps on the brackets and small rubber bands (elastics). Although installing the archwire doesn’t hurt, you may experience some discomfort when the doctor begins to tighten the wire. By tightening the wire, the doctor adds tension to move your teeth into alignment.

The doctor will adjust the archwire periodically during your treatment period to continue moving teeth into alignment. Because your teeth will be slightly loose while moving, you may feel discomfort from that, especially if you eat something hard, crunchy, or chewy.

You Will Experience Some Discomfort

Throughout your treatment, you will experience discomfort. Most often, this will occur after an adjustment as your teeth shift to new positions. Normally, this may last a day or two and regular over-the-counter pain relievers will help. If it lasts more than a week or is beyond discomfort and into “pain” you should contact your orthodontist.

Another way to ease some of the discomforts is to use analgesic gels such as Anbesol® or Orajel®. These topical solutions contain numbing agents that can help. Cold compresses or ice packs can also help.

The brackets and wires may irritate your mouth. This is normal and your mouth will adapt. Placing a small bit of dental wax on the bracket that is rubbing will help.

At times, you may experience a broken wire that may poke the inside of your mouth. The brackets may also get loose or come off. While they may cause pain, there are things you can do to ease that until you can have them repaired by the doctor. We’ll discuss quick DIY fixes for comfort shortly.

All in all, it shouldn’t hurt to have braces. If your level of discomfort is painful, please let your orthodontist know.

Dental Wax is Your Friend When Your Braces Hurt

You will receive some dental wax when you get your braces. Keep it with you at all times. We mentioned that placing a dot of dental wax over a bracket that is rubbing will help. Dental wax can also be used to temporarily secure a loose wire or bracket.

If you play a brass instrument in the marching band you will LOVE your dental wax. It can be useful to shield the inside of your lips while playing your instrument. Braces will not interfere with the playing of any of the wind instruments, but your embouchure may get tender. Dental wax to the rescue!

Occasionally, you may have a poking wire. In many cases, a dab of dental wax will allow you to continue your activities without pain. Remember, we do expect you to have some discomfort, but your braces should not hurt.

Tools to Make Life with Braces Easier

With new braces come new habits. We recommend that you create a braces tool kit that you can keep in a little box, container, or even a zippered baggie. Put it in your backpack, briefcase, or purse and keep it with you. The items we recommend putting in your kit are:

  • Dental wax
  • A new pencil with a clean, unused eraser
  • Small, clean nail clippers
  • Interdental brushes
  • Clean tweezers
  • Dental floss and a floss threader
  • Toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste
  • Collapsible cup (optional)

Although you can purchase pre-made kits, the items listed above will do the job for you to solve almost every orthodontic emergency you may have, at least temporarily. Please be sure to contact your orthodontist before performing do-it-yourself repairs on your braces.

What to Do if Your Braces Hurt

When you first get your braces and right after having an adjustment you may experience more discomfort for a day or two. You may feel soreness when chewing especially. Because the brackets are new, you may develop sores inside your mouth and on your tongue from rubbing.

Taking OTC pain relievers and using analgesic gels will probably be sufficient to ease the pain. You may want to alter your diet a bit, including softer foods such as:

  • Smoothies
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Cold, non-sugary drinks
  • Soup
  • Macaroni and cheese

You can also use a warm salt-water rinse. Simply add about one teaspoon of salt per cup of warm water, swish, and spit. The warm water will soothe your gums. Of course, you want to avoid this if you have open sores inside your mouth. Don’t forget your friendly dental wax for those sore spots.

Proper Oral Hygiene with Braces

We don’t need to tell you about the importance of oral hygiene in general, but we should mention that it increases with braces. The hardware adds extra nooks and crannies where food particles can hide. Keeping your braces clean will prevent food and plaque from collecting in all the extra little spaces around your brackets and under your wires.

Call with Questions

The staff at Northeastern Braces is ready for your call. Always call if any part of your appliance breaks or comes unattached. Our staff may talk you through the steps to repair the problem, at least temporarily, or they may recommend an additional appointment for repair. Although you will be able to handle most emergencies on your own, it is very important to maintain contact with the office.

If you haven’t gotten braces yet, we answered your question, “Do braces hurt,” and it is a perfect time to make an appointment with Northeastern Braces. You can click on any of the handy “Book Online” links on our website or call our offices to speak directly to an appointment Coordinator.

Bronx Office — (917) 801 3600
Newburgh Office — (845) 863 0500

Also, be sure to check our Orthodontic Blog for more great information on braces, Invisalign, and oral health.

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