One of the most common questions orthodontists receive is “will it hurt?” The answer to this question varies between patients because every mouth is different, and everyone has different perceptions of pain or discomfort. Yes, braces make the teeth and tissues sore. The good news is that orthodontic patients respond well to simple pain management strategies. The discomfort associated with orthodontics is also not felt throughout the duration of treatment. Temporary discomfort occurs when braces are tightened, or when teeth undergo an increase in pressure to shift them into a new position. Learn more about pain management when you have occasional braces discomfort and how to make your experience more comfortable.
As you become accustomed to your new braces, your teeth will likely be tender and you may experience a dull ache for the first 2-4 days. Remember, you just had brackets cemented to each tooth, which is bound to cause discomfort. The reason for this discomfort isn’t completely understood. However, research has shown that when pressure is applied to the teeth, it changes your blood flow. You body also secretes certain proteins such as “substance p” and “prostaglandins”. This applied pressure of the brackets and archwire basically triggers the body’s inflammatory response—the same response you feel when you’ve injured a part of your body.
We recommend that our patients eat soft foods during this initial adjustment period. Often, patients need pain management methods after each time your braces are tightened as well. If needed, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol. Some of our patients also find a warm saltwater rinse helpful for pain management. Accessory appliances such as rubber bands, springs or headgear also cause teeth to become sore in some patients. When wearing these appliances as prescribed, your sensitivity will typically go away in 2-4 days or even sooner.
Does Your Braces Type Matter?
There are several different types of braces you can receive to straighten your teeth. All of the orthodontic treatment methods we have will most likely make your teeth a little bit sore. This is because your teeth are moving into a straighter position. In order for them to move, there will be discomfort, and that discomfort will be similar with the different braces options you choose. The braces options we offer for your orthodontic treatment include: traditional metal braces, lingual braces, ceramic braces and Invisalign.
We wish that we could say you will never have discomfort with your braces. However, you are moving the position of your teeth, which has been permanent up until the point where you chose to receive orthodontic treatment. Moving something permanent is bound to cause a little bit of discomfort, however, that discomfort generally last less than a day. Some patients don’t feel discomfort at all or don’t with every braces adjustment.
Orthodontic Treatment Options
- Metal Braces – Metal braces are the most common type of braces. They are made out of metal brackets attached to the center of each tooth. A metal archwire connects these brackets that are cemented to the teeth. When you come in for your braces adjustment, we will tighten your wires. Your teeth shift constantly and the wires need to be adjusted accordingly. We will adjust your wires each time you come in. The adjustment is slight, but may cause you discomfort. This generally lasts for only the first 24 hours (if at all). We often use rubber bands to bring crooked teeth into place. You may feel discomfort with these rubber bands as well, but only for a similar short time period.
- Ceramic Braces – These braces are very similar to traditional metal braces, except that the materials are made out of ceramic. This helps decrease demineralization that generally happens to the teeth with metal braces. The structure of this type of orthodontic treatment is very similar, so patients can expect about the same level of discomfort (if any) as they would with metal braces. Pain management strategies are the same for these types of braces as well as for lingual braces.
- Lingual Braces – These are metal braces attached to the back of each tooth. Traditional metal braces are attached to the front of the tooth, and lingual braces are attached to the back. This will create a slightly different experience when the wires are adjusted at an orthodontic visit. A patient may feel that their teeth are more sore on the back than the front. This is because the metal is bonded to the back of the teeth instead of the front. However, discomfort is minimal and will go away quickly.
- Invisalign – Invisalign is a series of transparent aligners that work to shift your teeth into place. Even though they don’t involve brackets, they are a type of retainer that shifts your teeth. You replace these aligners every 1-2 weeks, so you can expect some discomfort every time you change your aligners. However, if you replace your aligner at night, you can sleep through most of the adjustment period where patients typically experience discomfort.
Pain Management with Braces
Pain management is easy when it comes to braces. Millions of people receive braces each year and millions deal with slight discomfort, if any. It’s typical to be slightly sore after receiving braces or an adjustment. However, if you have a braces emergency, come into our office immediately. An emergency consists of: lip and cheek sores, loose bands and brackets, pokey archwires, loose or missing elastic tie, or accidents that caused trauma to your mouth. Many patients find that having their braces is a breeze, and the beautiful smile they receive at the end is quite worth the time it takes with braces. If you have more questions about pain management with your braces, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!