Whether you have metal braces or clear braces like Invisalign, the first few days after you first get them, or have them adjusted, can hurt. Your braces are pulling the teeth through stiff gum tissue into a newer, healthier position. Fortunately, the mouth, gum and tooth pain from braces usually subsides after a couple of days—and you can alleviate mouth and tooth pain with these 8 tips, straight from your orthodontist:
1. Orthodontic Wax to Prevent Sores
Your orthodontist can provide you with a non-toxic wax to apply over the rough brackets rubbing against your inner cheeks or tongue. First, make sure the bracket is very dry. Then roll up a little ball of wax and mold it over the irritating brackets. The orthodontic wax provides a smooth surface that can prevent sore spots. Just don’t forget to take the wax out before you brush your teeth!
2. Oral Anesthetics to Numb the Pain
Oral anesthetics containing Benzocaine can provide welcome numbing for sore gums and mouth tissues. You can find these anesthetic gels or liquids as over-the-counter medications at most drugstores. Carefully follow the package directions and apply the correct amount to the affected area with a clean fingertip or swab.
3. Over-the-Counter Pain Medications for Temporary Relief
Our orthodontist often advises patients to take an appropriate dose of the OTC pain medication (ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, or acetaminophen) before coming in to have braces put in or adjusted. This can take the edge off of the initial discomfort for a few hours. We caution parents to be careful of the dosage instructions on the package, and to try to use the other braces pain relief tips as well, so as not to over-do the pain medications. Please feel free to ask our orthodontist about pain medication cautions and suggestions.
4. Ice Packs to Reduce Inflammation
Painful inflammation of the gums and mouth tissues is normal right after having braces or aligners adjusted, and ice packs can help reduce the swelling. Wrap an ice pack in a thin towel hold it to your cheek for a few minutes at a time.
5. Cold Foods for Braces Pain Relief
Soft, cold foods like frozen yogurt, ice cream or sorbet can provide cooling relief inside your mouth as well. Sipping on ice water or sucking on (not chewing) an ice cube can help reduce inflammation and pain inside the mouth as well. Just make sure to thoroughly brush your teeth and braces after eating anything!
6. Soft Foods to Avoid Further Braces Pain
For the first couple of days after getting your braces or having them adjusted, avoid foods that require too much chewing or crunching. Instead, opt for soft foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, soups, or soft-cooked vegetables and eggs. Once the pain subsides, you can start eating a more varied diet again, but be sure to follow your orthodontist’s instructions on what to eat and what not to eat when you have braces.
7. Heat Pads for Soothing
It can help to alternate ice packs with heat packs to soothe the tooth pain from braces. If you don’t have a heating pad, a warm washcloth can also help.
8. Warm Salt-Water Rinse to Prevent Infections
If you forgot to use orthodontic wax, and you start getting raw spots in your mouth from the brackets, a warm salt-water rinse will help. Pour a cup of warm water and stir in half a teaspoon of salt until it’s dissolved. Swish and gargle with the solution for about a minute before spitting. The warm salt water can prevent infections and sooth any tooth pain.
Your braces are shepherding your teeth into a healthy, fantastic smile! So, some discomfort at the beginning (and after adjustments) is entirely normal—but worth it! Try these tips and any other instructions your orthodontist provides, and you’ll feel better soon. Feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions.