Is Getting Braces Painful? Debunking Myths and Easing Your Concerns

Embarking on a journey towards a straighter, healthier smile is an exciting decision, but it’s natural to have concerns, especially about potential discomfort. The question on everyone’s mind is, “Is getting braces painful?” In this blog post, we’ll talk about the causes of pain during braces and how to reduce them. We’ll also address common misconceptions and provide you with a realistic view of what to expect during your braces journey.

First: Understanding How Braces Work-The Pressure and Tension Behind a Beautiful Smile

When it comes to straightening your teeth with braces, there’s a fascinating science at play. Imagine your teeth like little puzzle pieces – they have their own unique (sometimes not so good) places. Braces work by gently coaxing these pieces into their ideal positions over time. But how do they do it? It all comes down to something we call “pressure and tension.”

1. Gentle Pressure: Guiding Your Teeth

Think of each tooth as a tiny adventurer on a journey. The braces act like wise guides, applying a gentle but persistent force in the right direction. This pressure is carefully controlled to avoid causing any harm or pain. It’s like a gentle nudge telling your teeth, “Hey, let’s move over here!”. This pressure that your braces put on your teeth pushes into the bone that your teeth are rooted it. Over a few weeks, the bone remodels making space for the tooth to move into.

2. Tension: The Silent Force

So what happens to the spaces left behind when your teeth moves? Will you end up with lots of holes in your jaw? Don’t worry. While pressure removes bone, tension lays bone down. So as the bone “in front” of the moving tooth is cleared, the “pulling” force behind it tells your body to make new bone. In effect, the bone moves with your teeth.

Why This Can Result in Discomfort:

Now, here’s where you might wonder about the discomfort. When your teeth experience this gentle pressure and tension, they’re essentially going through a transformation. They’re shifting in a way they’re not used to. This can cause a bit of soreness or tenderness – similar to how your muscles might feel after a workout.

Remember, It’s Temporary:

Just like your muscles adjust to a new exercise routine, your teeth are adjusting to their new positions. This discomfort is a sign that your braces are doing their job, and it’s completely normal. It’s important to know that this discomfort is temporary. As your teeth settle into their new positions, the soreness will gradually subside.

Other causes of pain during braces

When people come for their first appointment, most are concerned about the pain they feel when their teeth move. But there are other causes of pain or discomfort which we also address during treatment.

  1. Ulcers from braces rubbing
  2. Cuts from sharp parts
  3. Tooth sensitivity
  4. Pain from elastic wear
  5. Pain during braces removal

How we reduce and even eliminate pain from braces

Each person’s braces journey is different. Some are completely painless (yes it is possible) which other feel a lot pain. Some get zero ulcers while other get frequent ulcers. Here are ways we make the journey more comfortable for you.

1. Pain from tooth movement

When our patients tell us they are very worried about the pain they will feel when the first get braces on, we will adjust the appliance so it is less tight. There are multiple ways to do this including using a special light wire and tying the braces in a special way.

Patients can also choose self-ligating braces which are known to resullt in less pain during braces movement.

Majority of our patients say that the level of pain they feel is tolerable but you can take over the counter painkillers if you feel a lot of pain.

2. Ulcers from abrasion

Although the braces is not sharp, you may get ulcers if your lips constantly rubs against them. This is similar to getting blisters with a pair of new shoes. With time, the skin of your lips with get accustomed to the braces surface and ulcer will be rare. During the intial phase, we will give you some braces relief wax which you use to cover the braces so it feels smoother. This will make it a lot more comfortable and reduce the ulcers you get.

3. Cuts from sharp parts

Under the heavy chewing forces, some braces parts might break while other parts might stick out. These parts can sometimes be sharp and poke or cut your lips or cheek. The first thing we do is to ensure there are no sharp parts before sending you off. This involves adjusting the wire precisely and putting some “anti-cutting” features on our wires. We also use ways to stabilise the wire so they do not move around too much and stick out. Unfortunately, some parts my eventually cause discomfort. If it happens, we will see you on our next working day to solve the problem. Some patients have cut their own wires when they can’t get to us (eg when they are overseas). Some will see another dentist to cut away whichever part is hurting them. We will replace or repair as necessary when we see them again.

4. Tooth sensitivity

It is common for your teeth to feel hypersensitive during braces treatment. This means you may experience a sharp “electric-like” sensation with hot or cold food which you usually don’t. Thankfully, it usually resolves on its own. You should avoid any triggering food if you do feel hypersensitivity.

5. Pain from elastic wear

Many patients need to wear elastics that are tied from the braces of the upper to the lower jaw. These elastic stretch over the side of the teeth between the jaw and may cause pain that is different from the usual braces adjustment because the tension is applied differently. To address this, we will start patient on lighter elastics or customise the wear schedule.

6. Pain from braces removal

The braces are attached to your teeth using a special adhesive. These need to be strong enough to stay on your teeth during treatment. However they cannot be too strong such that removal if difficult. The removal process basically involves “plucking” the braces of your teeth. When not done properly, this plucking force can be felt on your teeth which causes a lot of pain. We use a special instrument to first break the bond of the adhesive and a technique that stabilizes your teeth to minimise the pressure on your teeth. Most of our patients say that the procedure is painless.

Myths and Reality

Myth #1: Braces are Inherently Painful

One of the most common misconceptions about braces is that they are inherently painful. While there may be some discomfort, particularly in the initial stages, it’s important to understand that advances in orthodontic technology have significantly reduced the overall level of discomfort associated with braces.

Reality: Discomfort vs. Pain

During the first few days after getting braces, you might experience some discomfort as your mouth adjusts to the new appliance. This discomfort is usually mild and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relief like ibuprofen. It’s important to note that this discomfort typically subsides within a week or so.

Myth #2: Every Adjustment is Painful

Another misconception is that every adjustment appointment will be painful. While you may feel some pressure or soreness during and after an adjustment, it’s usually much less than what you might expect.

Reality: Gradual Adjustments

Orthodontists are trained to make adjustments that facilitate the gradual movement of your teeth. This process allows your teeth and jaw to adapt comfortably over time. Communicate with your orthodontist about any discomfort you may be experiencing during adjustments so they can make necessary modifications to ensure your comfort.

Myth #3: Eating with Braces is Always Painful

Many people worry that eating with braces will be a painful experience, but with proper care and some adjustments to your diet, it’s entirely manageable.

Reality: Soft Foods and Proper Chewing

In the beginning, you may want to stick to softer foods that don’t require excessive chewing. As you get used to your braces, you’ll find that you can gradually reintroduce a wider variety of foods. Chewing slowly and carefully will help minimize any discomfort.

Myth #4: Braces Always Cause Sores

It’s common to worry about developing sores or ulcers from braces, but with good oral hygiene and some simple preventative measures, this can be largely avoided.

Reality: Proper Oral Hygiene

Maintaining a rigorous oral hygiene routine, including regular brushing, flossing, and using a mild mouthwash, can help prevent sores from developing. Additionally, orthodontic wax can be used to cover any sharp edges that might be causing irritation.

No pain, can still lead to gains

While it’s natural to have concerns about pain and discomfort when starting braces treatment, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. With advances in orthodontic technology and proper care, any discomfort experienced is typically temporary and manageable or even eliminated.

Remember, the end result – a beautiful, healthy smile – is well worth the initial adjustment period. If you ever have concerns or questions about your braces, don’t hesitate to reach out to your orthodontist.

Read about the process of getting braces in our guide.

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