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Do Braces Hurt? What to Expect

Family and Cosmetic Dentist Located in Brooklyn, NY

Mild pain or discomfort is a normal side effect of wearing braces, but it can be managed if you know what to expect. Dr. Ella Dekhtyar offers teeth straightening treatments that correct various issues, from crooked and crowded teeth to jaw alignment and bite problems, to make you look and feel confident in your appearance. She understands you concerns regarding pain and dental hygiene while wearing braces and guides you on what you can do to achieve the dream smile you long for. Dr. Dekhtyar uses advanced dental techniques and technology to ensure your dental experience is as comfortable and efficient as possible and produces the desired results in the long run.

Dental braces are orthodontic devices that help correct a wide range of orthodontic issues, such as overcrowded, gapped, or crooked teeth, as well as malocclusion or issues with the way your teeth fit together.

Braces use mild, constant pressure to shift your teeth into their proper positions over time. The exact way this happens depends on the type of braces you choose. Experiencing soreness or discomfort when you first have them fitted for a few days or when the brackets and wires are tightened is completely normal. Most pain or discomfort is caused by the pressure needed to create needed tooth movement for the braces to do their work, which goes away within a short time.

It is essential to understand that the wires, brackets, and rubber bands in braces do not hurt. It is the fitting, tightening, and removal that can irritate tissues in the mouth and cause discomfort.

Read on to know how much braces hurt and what you can do while they are on the teeth.

Do Braces Hurt?

Yes. While the degree of pain varies for different individuals, most people experience some uneasiness for a few days when they first get braces and after the braces are tightened. After their initial placement, you may also feel some pain in your cheeks or soft inner skin for a short period.

Why Do Braces Hurt?

Braces put stress on your teeth to realign your smile. This pressure often makes your teeth and gums sensitive. While most types of braces are designed to ease the pain, they can still rub against your cheeks, causing soreness or even small cuts, in case of sensitive skin.

Having a general idea of what the procedure of getting braces involves and what to expect at each stage of the treatment process prepares you to deal with it in a better way.

Getting Braces – The Process

You will not feel any pain right after the braces are fitted. This process may be temporarily uncomfortable as it involves some pressure, but it does not hurt.

  • First, the orthodontist puts bands around the back molars. This may involve slight pressure or pinching, but it is not painful.
  • Once the bands are placed around the molars, the orthodontist will clean or etch the teeth with a sour-tasting solution.
  • Next, the orthodontist applies a special glue to your teeth and glues the bracket onto each tooth individually. This process is also not uncomfortable, although you may not be happy with the taste of etch and glue. The orthodontist uses a blue light to harden the glue and ensure the braces are firmly bonded to the teeth.
  • The end of each wire is attached to the bands around the molars in the back of the mouth.
  • Lastly, everything is secured with elastic bands to hold the wires in place.

Within a few hours, you will begin to feel some pain and soreness in your teeth and gums. This discomfort usually lasts about a week during which, you will get used to wearing your braces. The wires and rubber bands put pressure on your teeth to slowly straighten them. With time, you will get used to wearing your new braces.

The experience of wearing braces differs among individuals. The discomfort typically disappears within four days, and braces pain rarely lasts longer than a week. Some people may have to wear spacers, or separators, between their teeth for a week or two before getting braces. These spacers may feel tight and sore for a few days. It resembles the feeling of having food caught between the teeth, but this discomfort goes away as you get used to it.

Getting Braces – The Process

What Level of Pain Does Wearing Braces Cause?

You may not experience any pain or discomfort straightway when the braces are placed. However, within a few hours, the gentle pressure the braces exert on the teeth will start to take effect. The pressure of braces slowly putting the teeth into alignment can result in pain and discomfort, which can last for a day or two to about a week.

As time passes, you will get used to the feeling of braces in your mouth. The wires and rubber bands on your teeth will slowly straighten them with persistent pressure.

During the first week, you will experience:

  • Pressure and soreness in your teeth and gums, especially when chewing
  • Sores or scrapes on the side inside of the checks as the metal brackets rub against them
  • Discomfort or cuts on your tongue from running it across the new braces

This pain and discomfort can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. Your orthodontist will advise you to stick to soft, no-chew foods for the first week, such as soup, yogurt, porridge, stew, mashed potatoes, well-cooked grains, scrambled eggs, etc. Cold drinks, ice cream, and smoothies can also soothe inflamed and sore gums.

As your mouth adjusts to having braces, the pain and discomfort will subside.

Tightening the Braces

Brace tightening is a crucial process for effective results. The wires exert a lot of pressure on your teeth in the beginning, but this pressure keeps decreasing with time. To maintain the pressure on your teeth and ensure your teeth are moving in the desired position, your orthodontist will tighten the braces periodically.

When an orthodontist tightens the braces, they may:

  • Replace the current wires
  • Place or tighten springs
  • Tighten bands on the braces to put additional pressure on the teeth

Tightening usually occurs once a month or as necessary, depending on your progress. You are likely to experience discomfort similar to that when you first got your braces. In some cases, it may be less uncomfortable as you have already been through the process and know how it goes.

Most people only feel pain in the teeth and gums after tightening. It is because the cheeks and tongue have usually adjusted to the braces by now, so new abrasions on these parts of the mouth are less likely. Pain levels will differ depending on your body.

Removing Braces

The average time for wearing braces is about 1 to 3 years, but time can vary depending on how quickly your teeth respond to the treatment. You may experience some discomfort when the braces are removed, but you will be so happy to see your new, straight teeth that you probably won’t be worried about pain.

Your orthodontist will remove the brackets, bands, and wires before cleaning the teeth to remove the glue. To complete the process, he may also ask you to wear a retainer. A retainer is an orthodontic device that helps to keep teeth in their new position after braces are taken off.

You may need to wear a retainer, either during the day or at night. The retainer should not cause any additional discomfort. Some people need permanent retainers, and the orthodontist will bond them to the teeth just like braces.

Cleaning teeth is not easy while you are wearing braces or a retainer. The inability to clean teeth properly can lead to cavities and tooth decay, which can be painful. Keeping the mouth as clean as possible with good oral hygiene and avoiding sticky, sugary foods can help prevent cavities and tooth decay.

How to Keep Braces Pain Away – Top Tips for Pain Relief

Most braces pain can be treated with over-the-counter medications. While acetaminophen is a common choice, using NSAIDs can also help reduce inflammation in the gums.

Your orthodontist may recommend soft wax to prevent cuts or sores on the inner side of the cheeks when the braces run against the soft skin. Pain and discomfort after the braces are first placed, or when they are tightened, go away within a few days.

Meanwhile, you can also try some of these home treatments for pain relief:

  • Rinse your mouth with a warm saltwater solution comprising 1 teaspoon of salt per 8 ounces of warm water
  • Eat soft foods, such as soup, ice cream, or yogurt, as these do not require much chewing
  • Drink cold beverages or eat cold foods to keep the inflammation down
  • Apply a cloth-covered ice pack to the face
  • Apply topical anesthetics to the gums with a finger or cotton swab
  • Avoid sticky foods, gum, and foods that can catch in or dislodge the braces
  • Brush the teeth carefully and floss, if possible, in between the braces properly to help prevent tooth decay

If a wire or bracket has broken or is out of place and loose, make an appointment with your dentist right away to have it fixed and avoid any mouth injury. Wearing braces causes temporary pain and discomfort, but you will see that their benefits far outweigh the initial aches and pains. You will be really happy with the results when they are removed.

Severe pain that does not go away within a few days or after taking pain relievers is unusual and needs a visit to your orthodontist. The specialist will examine the braces to make sure everything fits properly and that no other underlying condition is causing this pain.

Dental braces not only enhance your smile, but they also improve oral health and function by correcting misaligned, crowded, and malocclusion teeth and bite problems. Call Broadway Family Dental if you want to straighten your visibly crooked or crowded teeth and learn how orthodontic treatments can help you. Dr. Ella Dekhtyar addresses your concerns and puts your mind at ease about braces, the pain they cause, and what to expect during the treatment process. She explains the process from the time braces are placed on your teeth to when they are removed and how they can help you achieve the desired results for a beautiful, brighter smile.

Page Updated on Apr 9, 2024 by Dr. Dekhtyar (Dentist) of Broadway Family Dental

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(Bushwick, Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant)
(718) 455-4400

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