Dental Braces Pain
Orthodontic braces can help you to get a nice looking smile by straightening your teeth, but you should be prepared for some degree of tooth pain or mouth pain and discomfort during the course of treatment.
When you wear dental braces, you will likely feel tension and develop some sore areas in your mouth. The sensitive inner mouth tissues such as inner cheeks, lips, and gums may feel sore where they contact the metal brackets and wires of dental braces.
What Causes Dental Braces Pain?
Incidents of orthodontic brace pain are common for the first days or weeks after dental braces placement. They may also occur after the regular appointments with the orthodontist when the braces are realigned or tightened, or when a brace wire is damaged. The level of discomfort or pain may vary significantly from person to person. The majority of patients report a mild discomfort but for some others wearing dental braces can be painful and frustrating. The most common causes of mouth or tooth pain when wearing dental braces are:
Pressure to Teeth - After the orthodontic wire is engaged into the orthodontic brackets, the teeth become under constant pressure in order to shift to their proper position. Until the teeth and the surrounding hard and soft tissues get used to this new pressure, it is common to feel some tooth pain and find it difficult to eat and talk. The dental braces pain is probably related to changes in blood flow that occur as a body response to the pressure applied to teeth by the orthodontic device. This type of braces pain usually appears for the first days to a week after the initial braces placement and after each time the braces get tightened in the course of treatment.
Contact with soft tissues - The physical rubbing of the brackets and wires can cause pain in the soft tissues inside the mouth. After initial placement of braces it is possible the lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated as they rub against the brackets and wires and start developing sores. The sores from braces look similar to canker sores, and it becomes very painful to talk or to eat. This type of braces pain usually lasts for one to two weeks after braces placement and lessens with time, as the tissues become accustomed to the surface of the braces and ‘tougher’ scar tissue forms at the sore spots.
Protruding or broken wire. Protruding or broken wires are usually the problems that cause more discomfort and pain, especially when poking into the very back of the cheek. A broken wire may cause severe irritation, mouth sores or trauma to the soft tissues of the mouth such as the inner cheek. You can use the eraser end of a pencil or a cotton swab to move the wire to a less bothersome position. If you can't move it or if it continues to poke on the cheek, try to apply a small amount of orthodontic wax over the protruding arch wire end. Set up an appointment with your orthodontist to get it clipped.
How to Prevent and Relieve the Pain of New or Tightened Braces
We have put together some useful information to help you feel as comfortable as possible with your braces:
Medications and home remedies for braces pain relief
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. - Over-the-counter pain relievers can offer some relief from the discomfort of braces. Always follow the instructions on the label to ensure proper dosage.
Use a topical anesthetic to numb the pain. - There are a number of over-the-counter medications available that can relieve mouth pain by numbing the sore area. These mouth sore gels are topical anesthetics, meaning that they numb the area where they are applied for a few hours. Products such as Orajel and Orabase can provide some relief from the pain of mouth sores due to braces.
Rinse your mouth with salt water. - Salt water soothes the mouth and helps healing of any sores that may have developed because of the braces rubbing against your cheeks.
Other methods to prevent and relieve braces pain
Apply orthodontic wax on braces to prevent mouth sores. - Orthodontic or dental wax can be used as a protective barrier between the braces and the inside of the mouth. Applying dental wax can significantly reduce the risk of developing mouth sores due to braces. To apply the wax, break off a small piece of wax and roll it into a little ball about the size of a pea. This will also warm up the wax and make it easier to apply. Use a piece of tissue to dry the area of your braces where you would like to apply the wax, and press it directly onto the wire or bracket. Repeat as often as necessary.
Use Bite Wafers to relieve pressure tooth pain. - A bite wafer is an elastic material in the shape of the mouth arch that you place between upper and lower teeth. If you simply bite down on it, on and off, with gentle pressure for a few minutes several times per day, it could help to increase the blood circulation to the gums relieving some of the pain.
Adjust Your Diet to prevent and relieve braces pain
Eat soft foods for the first few days. - To avoid pain during the first few days after braces placement, eat very soft foods that don’t require much chewing until you are more accustomed to eating with braces. Foods like soups, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and scrambled eggs are good choices.
Eat cold foods. - Cold drinks, cold foods, frozen yogurt or ice cream can have a numbing effect that provides pain relief when placed against the sore area of the mouth. You can also suck on ice cubes but do not chew it because hard foods can damage brackets. But have in mind that cold drinks may sometimes increase the sensitivity of your teeth.
Avoid acidic drinks and foods. - Acidic foods and drinks can aggravate mouth sores caused by dental braces. Avoid these to eliminate the possibility of further irritating your mouth.
Avoid hard or sticky foods. - Protect your braces by avoiding hard and sticky foods that can be damaging to your braces. A broken and protruding arch wire may cause serious irritation or wound the gums or inner cheek.
Visit your Orthodontist for help
Some pain is expected when braces are first put on your teeth or after they are realigned or tightened. If, however, you are still experiencing severe pain after a few weeks, you may want to visit your orthodontist to check your braces and get help. Your orthodontist may:
Loosen the braces. - If the tooth pain from your braces is too intense, it is possible that they are too tight. Having tighter braces does not necessarily mean that they will work better or that your teeth will straighten faster. If it is too uncomfortable for you, your orthodontist may decide to reduce the tightness of the braces relieving some of the pressure to teeth.
Snip protruding wires on the braces. - Sometimes, there are short ends of wires on the braces that will protrude and rub against the inside of your cheek. These can be extremely uncomfortable and cause mouth sores. If you have these, your orthodontist will snip the ends off of these wires, and you should feel immediate relief.
Prescribe pain medication. - Your orthodontist might prescribe a stronger painkiller for you if regular over-the-counter medications don’t seem to be working.