Braces, or orthodontic appliances, are a common requirement for many children in their early teens. These are, of course, used to correct various malocclusions or anomalies of teeth position or the way the teeth meet together. Orthodontic appliances can vary from being very simple to quite sophisticated fixed types involving brackets fixed to various teeth and an arch-wire along a whole row of teeth.
The brackets and wire protrude from the buccal (outer) surfaces, usually, of the teeth and can irritate the lining of the cheeks and make them sore. This is something one has to accept with fixed brace therapy but there are several ways to alleviate discomfort or pain caused by this which we will come to later.
The other cause of braces hurting is the pressure which they put on teeth in order to move them as required. The amount of force can vary but inevitably after first getting the braces on, or when periodic tightening of components is done, there is some mild pain or discomfort afterwards for a period of time in most cases. This pressure against certain teeth is quite normal and is essential for tooth movement to take place.
The pain is usually a dull ache coming on a few hours after seeing the orthodontist and lasting for a day or two.
Relieving the Hurting Caused by Pressure
“How bad do braces hurt?” - In no way, is the pain from orthodontic treatment any worse than having a headache, say, except it’s usually in the jaws rather than the head. It is generally responsive to normal analgesics (painkillers) such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, and it is only temporary. Once the teeth start to “give” a little and the mouth becomes accustomed to the pressure the discomfort eases off.
Some orthodontists give out bite wafers which are thin u-shaped pieces which you bite into and which help relieve pain.
Relieving Soreness Of The Cheeks etc.
Soreness of the inside of the cheek can be caused by parts of the brace which stick out sufficiently far to rub against it. But the mouth usually becomes accustomed to the brace after a while. In the meantime it is possible to use various measures to give relief.
The orthodontist usually supplies you with a special wax which can be pushed over and stuck on to annoying areas of the brace to stop abrasion of the cheek lining, whilst frequent salt water mouth rinsing is also a tried and trusted method to help soothe soreness.
Here’s a video on how to apply orthodontic wax:
Another helpful measure is eating cold foods such as ice cream and frozen yoghurts which are often surprisingly effective at relieving mouth soreness and perking you up! Other products are available which can help too, such as GumEase, Rinconol PRN which is a mouth-rinse, Canker-X gel, ComfortBrace which is a protective adhesive strip, and Comfort Covers and Lip Protectors made from thin flexible plastic.
If you find a particular area becomes sore and ulcerated it can be treated with a gel bought from the pharmacy, but if it doesn’t subside within a few days it may be necessary to go back to the orthodontist to see what can be done. Sometimes it’s case of a wire protruding just a fraction too far and catching the cheek during eating or talking. Sometimes soreness appears after many months when a wire becomes gradually more protrusive, due to teeth moving in the intervening period. In these cases the orthodontist will be able to snip the excess wire and remove the irritation.
When you eventually have your braces removed it is straightforward and not painful. It is simply a matter of removing the wires and the brackets from the teeth and then cleaning away any remnants of the cement material, which is done using a special bur in a drill which doesn’t harm tooth enamel or cause any pain. The whole procedure may take about 45 minutes but is only slightly uncomfortable, if at all.
Nobody should be put off from having their teeth straightened for fear of braces hurting from the braces because it really is no big deal.
In answer to “how long do braces hurt” - The first few weeks can be somewhat difficult, but then most people get used to their braces and wear them without problems. The small amount of discomfort is well worth bearing in the end achievement of a perfect-looking set of teeth and nice smile to last you a lifetime!