How Long Will My Braces Hurt?

Wax on BracesWhen a patient initially gets their braces placed on their teeth, they will have some discomfort or sore teeth.   The normal period of time to get use to braces, right after they are placed, is about one week or less.  The majority of discomfort is the day after the braces are placed.  That day is the hardest.  With subsequent monthly appointments, after initial placement, your teeth may be sore for just a day or two or not at all.  So the first week is the hardest.

You will have a hard time chewing food, so think of foods that are soft to eat like mash potatoes or macaroni and cheese.  You will have a hard time chewing certain foods so think about soft items that you like to eat.  The discomfort is not a sharp pain but a dull ache especially when chewing.  Also, in the beginning you will drool a lot but just for a short period of time.

Some orthodontists just place the brackets on the teeth without the wires initially.  I believe this prolongs the time it takes to get comfortable with the braces.  The best way of getting used to your braces is to have all the brackets and the wires placed at the same time, so your mouth can get use to them.

What Can I Do to Keep My Braces From Hurting?

Here are some ideas that you can do to help get past this discomfort.

Don’t move your lips a lot.  Right after braces are placed, patients wants to move their lips a lot because it feels funny.  Don’t do it.  This will irritate the inside of your lips and create more discomfort than needed.  Braces are not exactly smooth so don’t move your lips a lot.

Pea Size Wax on FingerUse wax and lots of it.  Your orthodontist will give you lots of wax to place on your brackets and wires.  Pay attention to areas inside your lips that are starting to feel raw.  Place a large amount of wax in that area and keep it there over a long period of time, days.  Slowly your lips will get use to the braces and will toughen up.  Then you won’t need the wax as much.  Wax in the beginning of treatment is a very nice friend.  Before eating, you can try to remove the wax but usually it is warm and soft and hard to remove.  Just leave it.  If you eat the wax, it won’t hurt you.

Stay active and go to school.   Some parents think that their child should not go to school right after their braces are placed.  Send your child to school.  It keeps their mind off of their braces and time will go quicker.  For adults, keep your normal routine.  Braces should not slow you down.

Use soft foods.  Think of soft foods that you like to eat.  Make sure you pack them in your lunch.  If you take a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut the sandwich into four pieces because your front teeth may be so sore that you can’t tear the sandwich into small parts to eat.

Don’t sleep on your face.  Some patients sleep on their stomach.  If you do, you will push your lips into your braces causing sore teeth and lips.  Try to sleep on your side or back to avoid placing pressure on your lips and braces.

Use over the counter medicines.  Make sure the dosage is appropriate for the age and size of a child.  I think that meds do not help that much with the dull ache and only helps if you have a headache.

Don’t pick at your braces. Patients who pick at their braces are called “brace pickers.”  Brace pickers try to lessen their discomfort by removing the wires or bending them.  If the wire is not in place, your teeth are not moving.  Don’t touch or pick at your braces.  Leave them alone.  If you do pick at your braces, your time with the braces will greatly increase and you won’t get them off in the normal period of time.

At all times, your orthodontist tries to move your teeth without creating a lot of soreness.  Your orthodontist will use special wires that will lessen your discomfort.  For example, nickel-titanium wires place light pressure full time until the tooth is straight and they create much less discomfort.  Also, if you think that one of your hooks needs adjusted because it is creating a sore on your lip, keep wax on it until you see your orthodontist.  Then have the orthodontist bend the hook so that it is out of the way and not creating the sore.

Your teeth will get sore from orthodontic tooth movement.  We can’t eliminate it but we can make you more comfortable by using these ideas.