Over the past few decades, braces have become commonplace in the U.S. About 4.5 million Americans have braces, and 80% of that group is between 6 and 18 years old.
It’s no wonder: misaligned teeth can make people feel self-conscious, but they may also cause tooth decay, breathing problems, and chewing issues. Braces are a great solution. They can align your teeth to correct those problems and give you a straight, beautiful smile.
But braces can sometimes cause discomfort. Wires and brackets can rub against the inside of your mouth, causing cuts and scratches. And of course, there’s the occasional discomfort of your teeth shifting in your mouth.
Braces pain is common, but we never want it to be a cause for you to stop treatment. One study found that 8% of people discontinued orthodontic treatment because of pain. Don’t let that be you!
At Premier Orthodontics, we want to help you understand and manage your braces pain. Here are the usual causes for discomfort, 6 at-home remedies, and when to make an orthodontist appointment.
Common Causes of Braces Pain
With metal and ceramic braces, you’ll likely experience periods of discomfort. Hopefully, this doesn’t last the entire time you have braces, but certain kinds of pain are to be expected.
Braces work by moving your teeth slowly over time to get a healthy, straight smile. For ceramic and metal braces, orthodontists glue brackets onto the front of your teeth, then attach a wire that sits in each bracket.
The pressure of the brackets and wires moves teeth into the desired position, but it doesn’t always feel good. Here are the most common causes of braces pain.
Pain After Getting Braces Put On
- Braces can often hurt right after you get them on. It’s common to feel some pressure and discomfort after first getting braces.
- Your teeth are adjusting to new hardware in your mouth and may already be starting to shift. This can cause feelings of pressure, pain, or discomfort.
- Most people experience pain around 4 hours after the archwire (the wire that extends across your teeth) is put into place.
Pain After Getting Braces Tightened
- Your braces might hurt after getting them tightened by your orthodontist.
- Tightening your braces increases pressure on your teeth, which can cause soreness and pain. This can also change the blood flow which can cause pain.
- Pain after getting your braces adjusted may last a few hours to a few days.
Pain on Your Gums, Cheeks, and Lips
- The metal brackets and wires can create little cuts on the inside of your mouth. While uncomfortable, this is normal.
Pain from Rubber Bands, Spacers, or Other Orthodonture
- Sometimes we give our patients a little extra hardware to help their teeth shift.
- We might use rubber bands that extend from a tooth on the top of your mouth to a tooth on the bottom of your mouth, a spacer that goes across the top of your mouth, or another small orthodontic device.
- These add extra pressure to move teeth, which can cause more discomfort.
How to Stop Tooth Pain from Braces
If you’re feeling braces pain, there are things you can do at home to relieve your discomfort. Here’s how to relieve tooth pain from braces:
1. Take Pain Relievers
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Advil or Tylenol can help alleviate mild to moderate braces pain.
- Always check with your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications.
2. Use Orthodontic Wax
- If the wires and brackets of your braces are cutting the inside of your mouth, orthodontic wax can protect the area so the cuts can heal and you can prevent new ones.
- Take a small piece of wax, roll it into a ball, and press it over the hardware that’s causing you pain.
- We have wax available for our patients who receive braces. If you need some, don’t hesitate to ask next time you’re in the office (or stop by to pick some up).
3. Try Salt Water
- Rise or gargle with warm salt water. Saltwater removes bacteria, which can prevent infection. This is especially important if you have cuts on the inside of your mouth.
- The warm water may also soothe aching gums and teeth.
4. Use Cold
- Apply an ice pack to the outside of your cheek or jaw where you feel pain. You can also use frozen teething rings intended for infants!
- Drink cold liquids like ice water or iced tea — just be sure not to drink too many sugary cold drinks which can cause tooth decay.
5. Watch What You Eat
- If you notice sensitivity on your gums or teeth during or after eating, adjust what you eat until your mouth has a chance to adjust to your braces.
- Yogurt, smoothies, soup, or cooked vegetables might be easier to eat than anything crunchy or chewy.
- Plus, braces pain is a great excuse for an occasional treat of ice cream or a milkshake!
6. Brush Often
- If you have braces, we recommend you brush your teeth after every meal. This removes food that might be stuck in your braces which can cause discomfort.
- Brushing is also your first line of defense to prevent tooth decay, which can cause more problems down the line.
- Be sure to floss every day, too.
When Braces Pain is Not Normal
Mild to moderate discomfort from your braces is normal. But sometimes, ongoing mouth pain is a sign of something more serious.
Schedule a consultation to see us if you’re experiencing the following
- If you’ve had an accident or fallen and feel intense pain
- If you notice a broken wire or bracket
- If the pain doesn’t go away with over-the-counter medications and at-home treatments
We never want to leave our patients in pain. If you’re experiencing prolonged pain from your braces, come see us for help right away.
Visit Premier Orthodontics for Braces and Clear Aligners Today
Don’t let the fear of a little braces pain prevent you from getting the smile you’ve always wanted!
At Premier Orthodontics, we have plenty of ways to adjust your teeth with minimal discomfort, including using clear aligners like Invisalign.
Come in for a free consultation to discuss your options and learn what’s right for you. Our California offices are currently accepting new patients, and we partner with LendingPoint to offer flexible and affordable financing options to all our patients.