Braces help many individuals achieve their brightest and most beautiful smile. But while braces can be a positive change for many patients, the experience of wearing braces often comes with some amount of pain.
Braces may be particularly uncomfortable right after an adjustment or the addition of a new appliance, such as a spring or rubber bands. In this blog, we provide five strategies to help you address this discomfort, whether you just had your braces put on or your treatment plan just changed.
1. Consult Your Orthodontist
While you can use a number of home remedies to alleviate braces-related pain, it’s important to think of your orthodontist as your partner in this effort. If you experience symptoms that appear suddenly, especially if they don’t seem to have a reason, or symptoms that don’t go away after a few days, talk to your orthodontist. Never try to adjust your brackets or wire on your own, even if they hurt.
Your orthodontist helps patients overcome this kind of discomfort every day, so he or she may have recommendations that will work better for your situation.
2. Place Dental Wax Over the Problem Area
In addition to aches, braces can abrade the cheeks as you speak, eat, or even sleep. When your brackets start to rub the soft tissues in your mouth the wrong way, use a barrier product. One of the most common and effective barrier products available is dental wax.
To apply dental wax, remove a small amount of wax from the package and roll it between your fingers to soften it. Press the wax over the problem bracket to create a smooth surface that won’t bother your cheeks. Be sure to remove the wax before you brush your teeth so you can clean more thoroughly.
3. Reduce the Amount of Difficult Foods You Eat
Not all braces pain results from the dental appliance itself. Sometimes the pain comes from forcing your teeth and braces to deal with difficult foods. If you notice shooting pain or aches on one side of your mouth, the food you eat might be to blame.
Avoid hard and crunchy foods until the pain dissipates. Once your primary discomfort is gone, limit the difficult foods that you consume until your braces are removed.
4. Rinse With an Antibacterial Mouthwash
Often, inflammation and tenderness in the mouth is related to the buildup of plaque bacteria. If you notice swollen or red gums in addition to any other kind of discomfort, bacteria may be part of the problem.
For immediate relief, rinse your mouth with warm salt water. To address long-term symptoms, make an antibacterial mouthwash part of your daily oral hygiene routine to kill the bacteria that your toothbrush and dental floss don’t catch.
5. Try a Cold Compress
If your pain mostly consists of a soreness or appears immediately after your braces are adjusted, try cold therapy. For mild pain, drink a cold sugar-free beverage or eat a cold food. Smoothies, cold soups, and soft ice cream are best for this purpose because these foods don’t require chewing. If you use cold food therapy, try to stay away from sugary items as these might aggravate sensitive areas of your teeth.
For intense aches, use an external compress. Simply wrap a cold pack or frozen food package in a dish towel and place the compress against the problem area. Leave the pack on for 10 minutes, then give your skin a break. Continue in 10-minute intervals if necessary.
Use these tactics to minimize the discomfort of braces so you can focus on achieving your dream smile.