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How To Relieve Pain From Braces

Posted in Adults, Alberta, Braces, Children, Clear Aligners, General, Orthodontics, Phase 2 Treatment, Teens, Tips & Advice

Are you experiencing braces pain after starting your orthodontic treatment? Our Calgary orthodontists have some tips to help reduce pain and sensitivity and get some relief for your mouth. 

What Causes Braces Pain?

While it's worth your time and effort to have orthodontic issues treated, you may experience some pain and discomfort right after the braces are put on for the first time and following your appointments to have them tightened. 

While some pain due to braces may be attributed to changes in blood flow when the braces apply pressure to the teeth, there is also friction to consider, which occurs as a result of the brackets and wires rubbing on an irritating the mouth's soft tissues.

As the tissues grow stronger, the second type of pain will decrease over time. Archwires can also poke the back of the mouth and cause pain. 

Fortunately, braces pain is temporary and we can share some tips to help alleviate any pain and discomfort you may be experiencing. 

Braces Components 

Your braces have several parts or components that you'll probably hear your orthodontist mention. These include:


Made of nickel, titanium, copper titanium or stainless steel, archwires connect the brackets to one another and control the movement of your teeth. 


These square metal pieces are attached to the teeth's front surfaces. Brackets apply pressure evenly to the teeth to help shift them into their proper positions. 

Metal Rings 

Metal rings are placed at the back of the teeth. 

Rubber Bands or Elastic Ties 

These bands run between the teeth in the upper and lower jaws and are used to connect the wires to the brackets. You might also hear bands or ties referred to as ligatures or O-rings. 

10 Tips for Braces Pain Relief

Braces shouldn't regularly cause pain. However, you may feel some pain and discomfort right after they're put on or after your wires are tightened. Here are some recommendations from our Calgary orthodontists to alleviate pain. 

1. Use an ice pack. 

Applying an ice pack to the outside of your mouth can help with braces pain by reducing inflammation and numbing your mouth. 

2. Take over-the-counter pain medicine. 

If you know you're bound to feel some discomfort after your check-in appointment with your orthodontist, taking over-the-counter pain medicine about one hour before your appointment may help to head off some of the pain during and after your appointment. 

Always read instructions carefully on any medicine you take and follow directions for dosage. Since this medicine isn't meant to be used on a consistent basis, contact your orthodontist if you are still feeling pain or discomfort after a couple of days. 

3. Desensitize your teeth with oral anesthetics. 

Using your finger or a cotton swab to rub an oral anesthetic on any sensitive teeth and gums can help relieve pain or discomfort due to braces. The oral anesthetic can act to desensitize your teeth and gums to the shifts that are happening in your mouth. 

4. Drink cold ice water. 

Don't have any of the options above on hand? Sipping a glass of cold ice water after your orthodontic appointment may help alleviate some pain. This can help numb your mouth enough to relieve some pain, discomfort and sensitivity. 

5. Apply orthodontic wax. 

Your orthodontist can supply you with non-toxic orthodontic wax to protect the inside of your cheeks, lips and gums from getting scratched or irritated by the sharp ends of the brackets on your braces. 

Follow the instructions your orthodontist will provide to use the wax. Essentially, you'll mold the wax over the bracket that seems to be causing the irritation. Remember to remove the wax before brushing your teeth and reapply it after meals. 

6. Eat soft foods. 

Traditional wire braces come with some restrictions, especially concerning what you can eat. Avoid gum, chewy foods and hard candy to prevent these from becoming stuck in your braces and causing a mess, a broken bracket or another orthodontic emergency. 

After getting your braces put on and after each tightening, you might consider eating soft foods such as cereal, mashed potatoes or soups. 

Even if you choose Invisalign clear aligners as your orthodontic treatment option, there will still be an adjustment period when you switch to each new set of aligners. The same advice applies - stick to soft foods and be nice to your mouth. 

7. Massage your gums. 

If you've ever felt relief from a back or shoulder massage after a long day, you understand how just rubbing a sore area can help it to feel better.

Give your gums a massage by using one of your fingers to rub them in a circular fashion. You may want to use a block of ice to rub your gums before massaging them to get the full effect. This can relax swollen gums. 

8. Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater. 

Depending on your tolerance for different temperatures and your personal preferences, you may prefer warm saltwater to a glass of ice water sometimes. Gargling with warm saltwater can help to heal any cuts or sores you may have on your gums or in your mouth due to rubbing from braces. 

9. Be patient with yourself and the process. 

While pain and discomfort can be irritating, be patient as you go through adjustment periods during your orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign. Keeping your overall goal in mind of achieving that healthier smile can balance sensations of temporary discomfort. 

10. Practice excellent dental hygiene. 

Your orthodontic treatment plan may span a couple of years. Since food can become stuck in brackets and wires, your teeth and braces will need to be thoroughly cleaned. Be sure to floss, brush and use mouthwash to get rid of all the bacteria and food particles that remain after meals. 

It's critical to take care of your teeth and braces during this time, not only to help your smile appear whiter when your orthodontic devices are removed for good but also to avoid pain and discomfort that can accompany gum inflammation and tooth decay. 

Our orthodontists are always here to address any questions or concerns you may have during your treatment, and to offer tips on dental hygiene and other topics. 

Do you have concerns about braces pain during your orthodontic treatment? Schedule an appointment with our Calgary orthodontists at myORTHODONTIST. We look forward to addressing your questions and concerns.

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