Your orthodontic treatment has one clear goal: fix your misalignments and malocclusions (crooked teeth and bad “bite”) to straight healthy teeth. Whatever your choice: clear Invisalign aligners or braces (traditional, lingual, ceramic, Damon etc.), you will feel some discomfort during your orthodontic treatment.
In most cases, the most intensive pain is felt at the beginning of your braces treatment and during activation (when braces are tightened), every few weeks.
Many patients have a dull pain almost on a permanent basis, while others complain about sharp pain every time they try to eat something or clench their teeth by mistake.
My Braces Hurt So Bad I Could Have Cried
14 years ago I started my orthodontic treatment and we decided to go for Damon braces. I was thrilled to finally work on my teeth alignment and bad bite, so I was completely ready for this new step in my life.
READ MORE: How to Prepare for Braces
The day I got my Damon on wasn’t particularly special. The braces were placed on my teeth at noon and by evening I felt like they were a little tight.
Nothing out of the ordinary, though.
In the morning, when I woke up, I clenched my teeth carefully and the pain was so intense it brought tears to my eyes.
Fortunately I knew what to expect, so we had only soft food ready and was already contemplating using some over the counter pain medication, as instructed by my orthodontist.
I didn’t get to use it, though, as, after the initial shock waned, I was able to still function with my brace pain.
Since I know most orthodontic patients will go through this, as soon as getting braces, let’s try to find out how you can avoid pain when your braces are tightened.
Best Tips for Braces Pain Relief
#1 – Eat Soft Foods for 2-3 Days
There’s no avoiding it: brace pain is happening and it’s normal. Your teeth will slowly start to move into the desired position and this means you will feel discomfort and even serious pain.
As soon as you get home from your doctor, after getting the braces on or having them tightened, try to stick to soft foods for 2-3 days. There’s no reason to put yourself through more misery, when purees, shakes and cereal can actually reduce this pain.
#2 – Use an Ice Pack
Ice is incredibly useful when it comes to reducing inflamation and pain. A simple way to get some brace pain relief is to get an ice pack and place it on the outside of your mouth.
#3 – Drink Some Ice Cold Water
As you’ll not get the ice in your mouth (not recommended as you can actually break your brackets bonding on the teeth), how about you still chill the inside of your mouth with water? Take sips of very cold water and it should numb your mouth enough to relieve your pain.
If your teeth are sensitive to cold (such as mine, for instance), you can skip this and try another pain relief method below.
#4 Warm Rinse with Salty Water
Not a fan of the cold? Let’s try the other way around: a warm water rinse. Gurgling with salty-water that’s not cold, not hot either, will help heal your canker sores from braces . In many cases at least a part of the pain is actually due to the sores and cuts you have in your mouth because of the brackets and protruding wires.
#5 A Gentle Gum Massage
Oral massage has been shown to decrease brace pain, as it encourages blod flow in your gums and it also helps breaking up any food particles you might have missed during brushing and flossing. Ideally, at first, you should massage your gums with a small block of ice, to decrease swelling. Do not chomp on the ice, we don’t want your brackets to fall off.
#6 Orthodontic Wax
In many cases, your canker sores are giving you the hardest time. In order to allow your gums and the inside of your cheeks to properly heal and prevent more damage from your brackets/wires, you can put small blobs of orthodontic wax on these troublesome pieces of orthodontic hardware.
It helps a lot!
#7 Oral Anesthetics (Orajel, Anbesol)
If the pain you get from your braces is still unbearable, let’s try to get some topical help. Your orthodontist surely has recommended some oral anesthetics, such as Anbesol or Orajel. Use a small cotot swab or finger to apply the jel on your sensitive teeth and gum.
This should provide some instant brace pain relief, as they desensitize the area allowing you to feel less pain.
#8 Over-the-Counter Pain Medicine
If the oral anesthetics don’t work too well, you can consider an OTC pain killer. Do not take anything, unless recommended by the doctor. Painkillers are easy to get used to and then you’ll need more and more medication.
Your orthodontist will be able to recommend the right pain killers (even over-the-counter ones): Tylenol, Advil, Motrin etc. Take as instructed and keep on communicating with your orthodontist to make sure your symptoms are getting better.
#9 Keep an Excellent Dental Hygiene
For someone in braces, brushing and flossing can be a pain. But you need to keep your teeth and orthodontic braces in pristine condition, to prevent tartar and cavities from happening.
Any extra dental issues will add up to your time in braces and cause un-needed pain and suffering. So, by making sure you are keeping your teeth in excellent condition will allow your orthodontic treatment to go as planned without added aggravation.
On top of everything: have patience.
I know it’s not easy to preach patience to someone who can barely eat mashed potatoes without screaming in pain, but it will pass.
Dental braces pain is worst usually 1-2 days after having the braces on or tighened and then slowly it will subside. If you follow our pain relief tips above, you should have a better overall experience and get over the pain easier.
FAQ about Braces Pain Relief
How Long Do Braces Hurt?
Braces pain is normal, as your braces need to push and pull your teeth into a new position. When you get your braces on or get them tighted up, you should expect discomfort and even some mid-pain. Your pain should disappear after 3-4 days and shouldn’t last more than 7 days.
Why are braces so painful?
Braces work hard to push, pull, rotate your teeth into the right position. As this happens, your teeth and gums become sensitive and hurt from all this pressure. Some pain and discomfort are normal, but always keep on communicating with your orthodontis, as there are many braces pain relief options (as described in this article).