Orthodontic treatment with braces can be a long process – two to three years on average. Initially, many patients experience irritation from the new feeling of brackets and wires coming in contact with soft tissues like the lips, cheeks and tongue. This pain usually tapers off in a week or two as your mouth becomes accustomed to its new features. During the long months of treatment, braces pain can flare up after a routine visit to the orthodontist. Why does this happen? The simple answer is that the adjustments made during these six-week maintenance visits – like tightening wires and changing colorful rubber ligatures – puts pressure on your teeth and the ligaments in your mouth, causing pain and sensitivity.
Braces Pain: The Gain Is A Beautiful Smile!
If your dentist has noticed a problem with your bite, they will refer you to the orthodontist, a specialist in aligning jaws and straightening teeth. These two dental professionals together might recommend orthodontic treatment to achieve the proper alignment of teeth for a healthy, functioning bite. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends starting orthodontic checkups as early as age 7 to make sure that the adult teeth are coming in properly.
Traditional braces start with the orthodontist placing anchoring bands or brackets on your molars or back teeth. From there, a bracket with a channel in the center is glued to each tooth, and the line of brackets is connected by a wire held in place by rubber ligatures. The installation itself shouldn't be painful and requires no anesthetic, according to the British Orthodontic Society. After the orthodontic wire is placed, it's common to feel some pain, as the teeth are under constant pressure to get them to gradually move. You may also find it difficult to eat or talk for a few days. This type of braces pain usually only occurs after your braces are installed and after the routine maintenance visits for tightening and cleaning.
For the most part, over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen offer relief and help control pain from braces. These non-aspirin pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are found to be the most effective pain reliever for braces pain. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, NSAIDs and over-the-counter medications taken as directed are the "first choice" for relieving pain. Taking ibuprofen before an orthodontic appointment, according to the study, also helped some patients experience less pain for up to two hours afterward.
During painful episodes, eating soft, cold foods can help prevent extra discomfort. Orthodontics Australia suggests planning on soft meals like soup, pasta or mashed potatoes on the days you get your braces adjusted. You can also place an ice pack or cold cloth on your cheeks for a few minutes, just like you would for an injury or headache .
Good oral hygiene is critical for healthy teeth and soft tissues during orthodontic treatment. Brush at least twice per day, or better yet after every meal. If small particles of plaque or food debris are left behind, it can leave you with white spots or decalcifications where the brackets were after they're removed. Floss daily and rinse with a mouthwash for protection against germs after drinking and eating.
Undergoing orthodontics can be uncomfortable, but the outcome will be worth it. Not only will it add to your self-confidence, you will gain straight teeth that are properly aligned with your upper and lower jaw, allowing you to chew and bite effectively. The result will be a beautiful, fully-functioning smile that will last a lifetime!