The decision to improve your smile with braces is an important one, and the results they yield once treatment is complete can be life-changing. But just like any new adventure, it comes with a lot of unknowns! Here at Sturgill Orthodontics, new patients often want to know what they can expect from the treatment process. Some worry that braces will be uncomfortable or painful. Fortunately, modern braces are easier to wear than ever before!
That said, braces can still involve occasional discomfort, even with an improved design. Follow-up appointments are an important part of every orthodontic journey, and patients in braces can expect to see Dr. Sturgill or Dr. Williams every 5-10 weeks to monitor their progress. During these visits, our doctors may tighten, bend, or replace the thin metal wire that runs from bracket to bracket. The elastic ties that hold the brackets on the arch wires may also be replaced. This can put additional pressure on the teeth and gums, and may result in a bit of temporary soreness, sensitivity, or irritation.
While wearing braces can cause mild discomfort from time to time, this is normal and shouldn’t last long. The good news is, there are several simple ways to reduce or eliminate any pain associated with braces! We’ll outline some of our best tips below, so keep reading for more information.
Swish with salt water
While orthodontic treatment itself doesn’t cause mouth sores, some patients do seem to be more susceptible to them while they’re in braces. These sores can also develop along the gums and cheeks as they adapt to tightened wires. You can get relief from these painful ulcers with a simple salt water rinse!This tried-and-true remedy helps reduce infection and alleviate soreness. Simply mix one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, then swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out.
Keep it cool
Ice works on more than muscle injuries, bumps, and bruises. It’s effective for aching mouths, too! An ice pack can decrease inflammation and swelling to help reduce pain. If your newly adjusted braces are causing soreness, apply a cold ice pack to the area that’s bothering you for 10 minutes at a time, once an hour, until the pain has abated. Cold treats like popsicles and ice cream can have a similar soothing effect! Not only do they taste delicious, they also numb your mouth for immediate relief. Just be sure to brush your teeth after eating anything sugary to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy.
Stick to softer foods
After an adjustment appointment, your teeth and gums may feel more sensitive than usual. This can make eating painful, especially if the foods are hard to bite into or chew. If you find it difficult to eat due to a sore mouth, stick with softer foods and liquids until your teeth have adjusted. This could include soups, smoothies, yogurt, and mashed potatoes, among other tasty choices! Any pain should subside relatively quickly, at which time you’ll be able to resume your normal eating habits.
Take advantage of orthodontic wax
As your treatment progresses and your teeth begin to move, the archwire connecting them may also shift. This can sometimes result in a bit of it poking out near the back of your mouth, which might irritate your cheeks or gums. You can use the eraser end of the pencil or a clean cotton swab to gently move it back into the correct spot, but this is where orthodontic wax really shines! Put a pinch of it over the parts that are sticking out to help relieve the immediate discomfort.
Keep in mind that if any part of your braces comes loose or breaks during treatment, you should contact our office as soon as possible. If a band or bracket is broken but still attached to the wire, try to leave it alone until you speak with us, and don’t connect any elastics to it in the meantime. If any piece of your braces has completely broken off, place it in a secure bag and we’ll advise you on what you should do next.
Over-the-counter pain relievers
If you’ve tried the above tips and are still experiencing discomfort, you may benefit from an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation, but you should check with one of our doctors before taking any medications and always follow the dosage instructions on the bottle.
Topical oral anesthetics like Orajel can also be applied directly to the teeth and gums with a cotton swab or finger to help desensitize the specific area in your mouth that’s bothering you. This can be particularly helpful at bedtime if you’re having trouble getting to sleep due to your mouth or teeth being sore.
Give yourself time to adjust
As your teeth adapt to new braces or braces that have just been adjusted, remember that any discomfort will only be temporary. It’s entirely normal and even expected for this to occur as your teeth begin moving towards their optimal positions. Although it can be frustrating at times, all your hard work and dedication will be more than worth it once your braces are removed and we reveal your beautiful new smile!
Get the smile you’ve always wanted with braces by Sturgill Orthodontics
Braces are one of the most effective ways we have to improve the appearance and functionality of your smile. With these simple tips, you’ll be able to get through the discomfort they can cause from time to time and be on your way to straighter teeth and a healthier mouth in no time!
Sturgill Orthodontics is committed to providing our patients with a rewarding and stress-free orthodontic process from start to finish. If you have any questions or concerns about your own braces journey, get in touch with us any time and we’ll be happy to set your mind at ease! Have you been thinking about improving your oral health with braces? Schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Sturgill or Dr. Williams today by clicking here.