What to Do About Braces Pain
When you have braces, the road to beautiful, straight teeth can be paved with a little discomfort and pain along the way. From brackets that rub against the inside of your mouth to aching or soreness after a recent adjustment, solutions exist to relieve braces pain. Here’s how to breeze through the time period when you first get braces and relieve pain from adjustments along the way.
Pop a Pain Reliever
If you’ve just taken a trip to your orthodontist’s to have your braces adjusted, you can expect some braces pain and discomfort. When that happens, an over-the-counter pain reliever can help to cut down on the soreness. Examples include ibuprofen or acetaminophen (just remember those under age 12 shouldn’t take aspirin due to increased risk for Reye’s syndrome). Your dentist also may recommend a topical pain reliever that can reduce discomfort when applied to the gums.
Switch Up Your Food Choices
When your braces are painful, the last thing you want to do is munch on something really crunchy or chewy because it will only cause more pain and stress to your teeth. Instead, try some softer foods to ease braces pain and relieve your stomach rumblings. Good examples include pasta, cooked vegetables, pudding and gelatin. You’ll also want to avoid some braces no-nos in the food department:
“Very sticky taffy-like foods are the worst for causing loose bands that are cemented around the back teeth to break off,” says Kenneth C. Dyer IV, DDS, an orthodontist based in Chattanooga, Tenn. “Hard candy and ice are the worst foods for breaking off the front brackets that are bonded to the teeth.”
Watch Those Wires
Braces are a series of brackets connected with wire that can be tightened to bring your teeth into alignment. On some occasions, these wires can start to stick out, potentially scratching your mouth’s delicate inner lining. When this is the case, you have several options to relieve braces pain. You can cover over the wire with a piece of cotton or pat on a piece of orthodontic wax. This moldable wax can cover over sharp or uncomfortable wires and brackets with minimal fuss.
If a wire is protruding from your braces, you may be able to use a cotton swab to redirect it toward your braces. Think of this like “tucking in” the stray wire piece.
If the wire is easily accessible and longer than it should be, you may wish to clip the excess amount with scissors or nail clippers. Before you go using any old pair of scissors, ensure their cleanliness by washing the scissors with an antibacterial soap and sterilizing them with alcohol to ensure you are not introducing unwanted bacteria into your mouth.
Warm Up to Reduce Braces Pain
Swishing some warm salt water in your mouth may help to relieve aching gums and can be repeated as often as needed to reduce braces pain. Another option is to place a warm washcloth or heating pad over your jaw to relieve aching sensations. Just don’t overdo it on the heat. Using the heating pad on a low setting for 10 minutes at a time should be sufficient to reduce braces pain.
Take Care of Your Teeth
Poor dental care plus braces can be a prescription for discomfort and braces pain. When you’re brushing your teeth, use a soft-bristled brush to cut down on sensitivity and don’t forget to be thorough.
“Patients are often concerned with brushing the braces and the occlusal area of the teeth,” Dr. Dyer says. “They often forget to brush the gingival side of the braces, leaving food near the gum line and resulting in very swollen gingiva.”
To rid yourself of the food that tends to stick between your teeth, Dyer recommends using an air flosser, or a device that projects a stream of water between your teeth to stimulate your gums and remove food material that can lead to braces discomfort.
When In Doubt
In those rare instances where braces pain does not respond to your attempts at alleviating pain and discomfort, it’s time to give your dentist a call. Braces pain that does not subside in a few days could indicate a more serious issue. While some discomfort is to be expected, your orthodontist’s goal is for you to wear braces with success.