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Do Braces Hurt?

Right before I place braces on a patient, I sometimes get a wide-eyed look and this question: Is this going to hurt?

Getting braces for the first time can be very exciting! But, it is also normal to feel nervous. Most patients tell me that getting braces put on was not as bad as they thought. I’ve had braces myself, and I would agree with that. There are no shots and nothing is being drilled into the teeth.

The day that the braces are placed, the teeth are cleaned and then a cheek stretcher has to be placed to keep the cheeks out of the way. Then a special gel (etch) and a layer of primer are placed on the teeth. This can be a little sour, but is rinsed out with water. The braces are then stuck on the teeth in very precise locations and the dental cement is hardened with a special light. Once everything is placed, a wire is secured into the braces. In general most patients feel very little discomfort at all during the procedure. The cheeks might feel a little tired, but nothing painful. After braces are placed there is also very little discomfort right away.

Many hours later patients may start to experience some soreness. The ‘pain’ experienced with braces is not like a sharp pain or pinch. It is much more like muscle soreness. Imagine running a long distance and then resting. Most likely your legs will feel sore. After braces are put on, patients often experience this similar type of feeling in their mouths. They may also notice scratchiness from the braces themselves.

In general the 2nd day after braces are placed is the peak of soreness, and within a week most patients feel back to normal again. The degree to which each patient feels soreness is extremely variable. Some patients feel little to no discomfort at all! Most patients experience scratchiness and soreness for a few days following braces placement.

In some very sensitive patients it may be a couple weeks before the soreness and scratchiness subside and feel better. If feeling sore, we recommend eating soft foods and taking Advil or Tylenol as needed. In terms of the scratchy feeling of having braces, salt water rinses or Peroxyl rinse (Colgate) help calm any irritated gum or soft tissue.

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