Did you know that teeth and jaw misalignment can cause chewing and speaking problems? This oral condition, also known as “malocclusion,” can even hinder a person’s breathing. It can also raise one’s risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
So, it’s no wonder that approximately 4 million people in the US wear braces at any given time. After all, these orthodontic devices help straighten teeth and correct jaw misalignment.
If you have a malocclusion yourself, your dentist likely recommended orthodontic treatment. This has then made you wonder, “Do braces hurt at all?”
We’ll answer that question (and more about braces) in this guide, so be sure to keep reading!
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How Can Braces Cause Discomfort or Pain?
Regardless of the type of braces you choose, they all work by placing pressure on the teeth. This controlled force makes each tooth root press against the bone beneath the tooth. Over time, the sustained pressure breaks down a small part of the bone.
That process then creates space wherein the teeth will shift or move into. As soon as the teeth start moving in that direction, new bone develops in the unoccupied space. This cycle continues until your teeth finally reach their new desirable locations.
The constant pressure exerted by braces is one of the main reasons they can hurt sometimes. However, the type of braces you wear can also influence the discomfort you may feel.
How Do Braces Get Placed?
If you’re getting fixed braces, your dentist needs to glue a metal bracket to each tooth. An archwire then goes through the center of these brackets to connect them all. In traditional braces, small elastic bands, called ligatures, secure the brackets and wires.
Other braces, such as the Damon system, use self-litigating brackets. These brackets have a built-in locking mechanism that affixes the wire to the bracket. This nifty feature eliminates the need for ligatures.
Removable orthodontic devices, like the Invisalign system, use aligners, not brackets and wires. These custom-made aligners cover the entire teeth from front to back. You can take them off anytime, but you still need to wear them for at least 20 to 22 hours each day.
Do Braces Hurt Right After They Get Placed?
You shouldn’t feel any pain when you first get braces placed on your teeth. However, you’d need to keep your mouth open for about an hour or two, so it may feel a bit uncomfortable. A few people experience braces installation pain, but it often has to do with tired mouth muscles.
When Then Are Braces Painful?
Fixed and removable braces start to exert pressure on the teeth soon after they get placed. However, it usually takes a few hours after the placement to feel some pain and soreness. These unpleasant but tolerable sensations usually last for two days up to a week.
Below are some of the situations wherein braces can cause minor discomfort or pain.
The First Week
During your first week of wearing braces, you may experience some soreness when you bite or chew. This means your teeth are already moving, albeit gradually. Your mouth will get used to the pressure after a few days, though, so you can also expect the discomfort to lessen.
When You Eat
Bits of food that get stuck between fixed brackets and wires may also make them feel tighter. This extra tightness adds more pressure and force, causing your teeth and gums to hurt more. This isn’t an issue with removable braces, so factor this in when you compare Invisalign vs braces.
Soft Tissue Injuries
You may also develop small sores on the areas where the brackets touch the insides of your mouth and cheeks. Your tongue may also get small cuts from the brackets and the ends of archwires. These are tiny injuries, but they can hurt even more if you eat acidic, salty, sour, and spicy food.
For orthodontic devices to do their job, they need to put constant pressure on the teeth. However, the tension of the brackets, wires, or aligners decreases after a few weeks. That’s why you need to see your dentist for periodic adjustments, usually after four weeks or so.
If you have fixed braces, the adjustment involves tightening the brackets and wires. Your orthodontist will also replace slack or loose ligatures.
If you have Invisalign or removable braces, you’ll get new aligners on each adjustment day. These replacements will feel snug or tight, just like how the first ones felt when you first got them.
These adjustments can also cause minor discomfort, pain, or soreness for a few days. Your mouth should have gotten used to the devices, though, so it may not be as bad as the first time. You may also recover faster at this point, so the unpleasant sensations may only last for a few days and not a week.
Is There Anything You Can Do To Ease Dental Braces Pain?
Don’t be shy to let your dentist or orthodontist know if you have low pain tolerance. Your oral healthcare provider may recommend you take over-the-counter pain medication. Braces can sometimes hurt, but not so much that you’d need prescription drugs.
If you’re prone to getting sores due to brackets and wires, your dentist may give you orthodontic wax. These are natural, non-toxic materials applied to brackets or the ends of archwires. The wax protects your mouth’s soft tissues from injuries caused by braces.
Cold beverages can also help ease the discomfort of mouth sores or tongue injuries. It’s also best to stick to soft food that doesn’t require you to chew a lot during your braces’ first week. These strategies are also useful for easing the pain that can arise after an adjustment.
The Benefits of Braces Outweigh the Pain
There you have it, the complete guide that answers your question, “Do braces hurt?” As you can see, there are several times wherein they do, but the pain or soreness isn’t that bad and is easy to manage. Besides, most people only have to wear braces for about two years, but their benefits can last for a long time.
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