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Do Braces Hurt?

by Dermot Kavanagh Orthodontics : Thursday 1 August 2013

Do Braces Hurt? The Truth About Braces and Pain.

by Michaela Simpson

“A boy in my class said that his orthodontist had to drill into his gums to put his braces on.”

“My friend told me about the big clamp that holds your mouth open…”

Do Braces Hurt? The Truth

The quotes above are actual concerns voiced by two very pleasant patients we saw recently. Orthodontic treatment seems to be the perfect subject for children who love to entertain their friends with dramatised versions of events.

As I have been working with orthodontic patients for over 4 years and also have experienced wearing braces myself, I would like to share the true (and unfortunately, more bland) picture of what can be expected in terms of ‘pain’ with braces.


1.     Does having the braces fitted hurt?

Absolutely not. Having your braces fitted is one of the easiest dental appointments you will have in your life. It simply involves lying still while we ‘glue’ the brackets to each individual tooth. After this, the archwire will be placed and tied into the brackets with tiny elastics (this is when you get to choose what colours you would like on your braces). At this point you might feel some slight pressure but nothing more.


2.    What about when the teeth start to move?

A few hours later and over the following few days, you will feel some more pressure on the teeth and they will probably feel tender to bite on. We recommend sticking to a soft diet (porridge, mashed potatoes, soups, soft pasta, soft bread etc.) for these few days. If you feel the need you could take whatever painkillers you usually take for a headache.


3.    Will it be painful if the brace rubs my lips and cheeks?

Yes, while your mouth is getting used to the new brace, you might find that it is rubbing your lips and cheeks, making them a bit raw. Some people may also suffer with mouth ulcers. To help you with this problem we will give you plenty of orthodontic wax. When you mould some of this wax over the part of the brace that is bothering you, it feels lovely and smooth and gives instant relief. Again, these are most often problems which arise at the beginning of your treatment. Over the first few weeks your mouth will toughen up and become used to the feeling of the braces.


4.    What about having my braces tightened? It sounds awful!

We prefer to call it having your braces ‘adjusted’! You will be attending appointments every 6 or 8 weeks and these appointments usually involve tying your archwire more tightly or fitting a thicker wire, both with the aim of keeping the teeth moving into the correct positions. Some people find that their teeth feel tender again for a few days after their adjustments but not as bad as when their braces were first fitted.


5.    Ok, that wasn't so bad and now my teeth are looking just perfect! But does it hurt having the braces taken off?

No. The worst part of having your braces taken off is the fact that it is quite a long appointment; usually an hour. We use a special instrument to pop the braces off the teeth. This is not painful, but you will feel some pressure as each bracket is popped off. After that we will polish the teeth which will feel like some buzzing on the teeth. Then all that’s left to do is arrange your retainers and send you off to show off your new smile!


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