An experienced orthodontist explains discomfort associated with braces
Many patients wonder if orthodontic treatment will hurt - a La Habra/Chino Hills orthodontist answers that question.

La Habra/Chino Hills, CA – If you’ve recently been told you need braces, the first question that might come out of your mouth is, “will it hurt?” You’re not alone – it’s a common question, and a source of anxiety for many orthodontic patients. Dr. Robert Gire,a La Habra/Chino Hills orthodontist, answers that question.

“Discomfort is something that’s very subjective. Some patient’s claim they don’t feel anything uncomfortable whereas others state they have some soreness,” says Dr. Robert Gire of Gire Orthodontics. “We are moving your teeth to a new place and that can lead to a bit of soreness. But, you should never experience anything more than just a mild discomfort and it should never interfere with your daily life.”

When braces are first put on:
There should be little to no discomfort when your braces are first placed on your teeth. It takes about an hour for the entire process. The orthodontist will clean and dry your teeth, then apply an adhesive to hold the brackets in place. After the brackets are in place, the orthodontist will place the archwires on the brackets, and secure everything with elastic ligatures or by simply closing the doors of the braces (for self-ligating braces, such as the Damon Smile braces).

You may have to adjust your routine at first as you get used to having the braces in your mouth. Chewing can take a bit longer, and you may want to stick to soft foods for the first several days.

“The braces put pressure on your teeth, and it may take a bit of time to get used to that,” says Dr. Gire. “If you feel discomfort or soreness, you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine to help.”

It may also take a bit of time to get used to having the brackets against your cheeks. Orthodontic wax can be placed on areas that may rub against the inside of your mouth until you get used to the feeling of the brackets.

During orthodontic appointments:
While you are wearing your braces, you’ll need to regularly see your orthodontist for adjustments. These adjustments make sure your braces continue to move the teeth to their new locations properly. The archwires will be adjusted periodically and there may be some interarch elastics (rubber bands from the top arch to the bottom arch) to help move the teeth in the correct direction.

Dr. Gire tells his patients that there may be mild soreness in the first few days following the braces being placed, then possibly for a day or two after each adjustment. The inside of the mouth may need about a week after the initial placement to get used to the feeling of the brackets. But most patients find that within just a few weeks, they don’t even notice their braces anymore.

“Most patients find that any discomfort they experience during treatment is more annoying than anything else, but that it is a quick and mild inconvenience,” says Dr. Gire. “In addition to an over-the-counter pain reliever, many patients find that swishing warm salt water can help relieve discomfort. Since all of our wires are heat activated, a patient can have a cold glass of water or other beverage to help things feel immediately better. The cold beverage will temporarily ‘deactivate’ the wire and that provides a nice break. That being said, we don’t want the patient to sip on a cold beverage all day long as the teeth won’t move as planned.”

In some situations, Dr. Gire also recommends the patients to chew sugar-free gum while wearing braces. The chewing action prevents the prostaglandin build-up around the supporting structures of the teeth to minimize discomfort. Just as in exercising, if you don’t keep moving immediately after, lactic acid can build-up and cause the muscles to be sore and achy.

“Gum chewing can provide great preventative and immediate relief to discomfort associated with braces,” says Dr. Gire.

Gire Orthodontics also provides a vibrating mouthpiece called AcceleDent that virtually eliminates all discomfort associated with orthodontics.

“We’ve had great success with AcceleDent, when used properly, to minimize or eliminate soreness altogether. Not only that, it accelerates the treatment process, decreasing the time in braces or aligners,” Dr. Gire explains.

Dr. Gire also tells his patients that any soreness they feel during their treatment will more than make up for itself once they see their beautiful, straight new smile once treatment is finished!