Truth be told, most patients always worry about experiencing pain or discomfort every time they have to visit their dentist. And when it comes to braces, wearing them may seem like a form of torture to a lot of people. So if you have been advised by your orthodontist that you need them, your first question would be, “Will they hurt?”
The installation of the braces (brackets, wires, and elastic ligatures) is simple enough, although a bit tedious as individual brackets have to be attached, one by one, to each tooth. The only discomfort you will feel is the strain of having your mouth open for an hour or more. Once your braces are installed, these are the things you should expect to experience over the next few days:
- You will be constantly aware of your braces, as they will initially feel like they are sticking out.
- Your gums and jaw will feel sore, as the braces begin to correctly align your teeth.
- The inside of your lips and cheeks will be irritated by the constant rubbing of the brackets, and you may develop mouth sores.
- Your teeth, especially the front ones, will feel tender, particularly where they meet your gums. They will also be sensitive to pressure when you bite and chew. You may experience mild pain when eating. This also means that it will take you longer to finish your meals as you will have to chew more slowly and carefully.
- You will also feel constant pressure on your teeth, which can be uncomfortable or slightly painful.
- You may have trouble sleeping during the first two nights, and you might wake up with a slight ache in your jaw and also a mild headache.
- You will have to go on a diet of soft foods for the first few days and maybe up to a week. Your orthodontist should provide you with a list of foods you can eat, and foods that you should avoid in the meantime.
- You will have to get in the habit of brushing your teeth or, at the very least, rinsing your mouth, after every meal.
- For the soreness/pain, you can take over-the-counter pain medication. Your orthodontist should also provide you with a wax that you can apply to your brackets to minimise/avoid irritation of the inside of your lips and cheeks. Rinsing with a salt-water mixture will also help alleviate the soreness, as well as treat mouth sores.
- The soreness and discomfort often only last between three days and a week, after which you can start eating other approved foods. The inside of your cheeks will eventually become tougher and will no longer be prone to irritation. After a while, you will also be oblivious to the presence of your braces.
- You should expect to feel some soreness and discomfort for a few days after every realignment, that is when you go back to your orthodontist to have your braces tightened and the wires and elastic ligatures changed.
As an article on Colgate.com also points out, the discomfort often associated with braces may be inconvenient, but it is manageable and temporary. The article also offers these top oral care tips:
- Start a flossing routine using the interdental brushes or floss threaders provided to you, to make cleaning in between teeth easier.
- When brushing, use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line, and use small circular motions. To clean the brackets, place the brush on top and angled down and brush sideways; do the same to the bottom of the brackets, but angled up.
- If you play sports, wear a mouthguard or an orthodontic appliance to protect your lips and cheeks from being cut by the braces in case you are hit in the face or if you fall down.