If you are about to get braces, you are probably curious about what they feel like. Can you feel all the time? Do braces hurt when you first get them? How bad? What does it feel like? If those questions are on your mind, good for you. Knowing what you are getting into makes the process a lot easier. We have put together this quick guide to answer your questions and help you feel as comfortable as possible on your first day with braces.
How Long Does it Take to Put My Braces on?
That all depends on you, the patient, and the type of braces you are getting. For most patients, getting braces put on takes about 1-2 hours.
The process may seem a little unpleasant, but you shouldn’t worry about pain. First, the dentist will clean and dry your teeth; then he or she will apply a special glue that holds the brackets on. The glue doesn’t taste great, but it is completely safe to have it in your mouth. The last thing the dentist will do is put the archwires on the brackets and secure everything with elastic bands.
Do Braces Hurt After They Get Put On?
You won’t feel any pain during the procedure, but your teeth and gums will probably be a little sore afterward. But do braces hurt for long after the procedure? In truth, they can. Your new braces are applying a gentle force to your teeth, and this can make them a little more sensitive than usual.
Here’s what’s happening: The archwires in your mouth and pulling (or pushing) the brackets in line. The brackets are slowly taking your teeth with them.
Your gums will accommodate your moving teeth, building up where they move from and making room where they are moving to. But it takes time for your gums to do this.
Until they adjust, the pressure can be uncomfortable. Many patients report that they do not notice the pressure until they bite down on something substantial. Over the next week or so, your mouth will adjust and this will no longer be the case.
You will, however, have to adjust to your new life with braces. Eating will be trickier, for example. It’s best to start out with softer foods (think soups, yogurt, cheese, mashed potatoes, etc.).
Some patients also report having to get used to the wires and elastics in their mouth, especially when there are sharp edges, as these can cause irritation. A little balled-up wax can soften any sharp spots; just ask your orthodontist for some.
Researchers have even invented wax with time-released benzocaine to help relieve irritation from orthodontic work.
All that said, the pain from getting braces put on is usually short-lived and easily managed. Most patients comment that it is annoying more than painful.
What Can I Do to Ease the Pain?
If you are really struggling to ease the pain after you get your braces put on, or simply looking to take your mind off it, there are several of things you can try:
- Try to only eat soft foods during the first few days. You can try things like mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, applesauce, and scrambled eggs.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin can help, just be sure never to exceed the dosage listed on the bottle.
- Your dentist will give you orthodontic wax that you can use whenever you feel uncomfortable. Just squeeze the wax between your fingers and apply it to the brackets that are rubbing the inside of your mouth.
- If you are experiencing a lot of irritation, ask your dentist for wax with a pain reliever, like benzocaine. You can also buy oral pain relief medications, like Anbesol or Orajel, over the counter at most pharmacies. (These are sometimes called “oral anesthetics”).
- Don’t drink beverages like orange or tomato juice that have a lot of acids.
- If you develop mouth sores, don’t touch them with your tongue or finger. You can help relieve the irritation by swishing a cup of water mixed with ½ tsp of salt in your mouth or using an oral anesthetic like Orajel.
When Will I Get Used to My Braces?
Probably within a month. And after six months, you probably won’t notice that they are there at all. During that time, you might experience mild amounts of pain randomly. This is completely normal. The pain will go away quickly and should not be cause for alarm. If necessary, take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
If, however, you feel intense pain, or pain that is long and sustained, it might be a sign that something is going wrong. The best thing to do is to contact your orthodontist immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Pain that lasts more than a week after getting your braces
- Sudden, sharp pain in a tooth or gums that doesn’t go away
- Off-and-on bleeding
- One or more teeth chip and begin to hurt
- Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold foods
Do Braces Hurt at Any Other Times?
For more information about life with braces, including the times when they might hurt and what to do about it, see our article “How Much Do Braces Hurt? Orthodontic Experts Weigh In.” Our dental and orthodontic team members share some great information there on what to expect with braces.
MyOrthodontist Does Braces Better
If you or your child needs to get braces, come to a dentist that understands the anxiety that can come with it. We here at MyOrthodontist will do everything possible to make the process pain and stress-free. Contact our office to schedule a consultation.