Do Braces Hurt?

Many of our first-time patients worry that getting braces will be a painful experience, and worry about how much discomfort they will need to endure. Getting braces is a big undertaking, and the thought of long-term pain can be offputting. The truth of the matter is that orthodontic treatment can be uncomfortable, but it is not unbearable torture.

The beginning steps are all painless. Conditioning, rinsing, drying, and sealing your tooth is completely painless, as is cementing on the brackets to the surface of your teeth. Adding the wire and the ligatures to hold it in place is also painless, although you may feel some pressure as the ligatures are added to hold the wire in place.

The man discomfort of braces comes as inflammation is built up around the roots of your teeth. While it’s not immediate, this process usually makes itself known about 3-4 hours after an adjustment or the application of your braces. The inflammation causes the buildup of lactic acid in the gums. This is the same substance that makes your muscles burn after strenuous exercise. Your body adjusts to the tooth’s new position and the pressure by dissolving the tooth around the root and rebuilding it to better accommodate the tooth’s new position. The process continues until the force of the pressure is completely dissipated, which usually takes between 24-48 hours. Every time a tooth is moved, you will feel some discomfort. Once that move is complete, you should feel very little discomfort while your body finishes adjusting to the changes.

Different people have different tolerances for pain, so it is difficult to tell you how unpleasant the experience will be for you. Some patients report feeling hardly anything during the process. Others report varying degrees of pain. However, only a small handful ever report going through unbearable suffering as their teeth adjusted to their new position.

If you are uncomfortable during your treatment, over-the-counter pain medications can help you feel better. Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can help make the first 48 hours bearable. Many people find chewing sugarless gum helps them feel better as well, as this can somewhat mimic the relaxing properties of a massage. Be careful not to get it stuck in your braces though!
Remember that anything unusual should be reported to Dr. Brodsky immediately. If you experience pain for more than a week, rubbing, or swelling in the area, call our office right away. Remember, no matter what you’re feeling during treatment, the end results will be worth it!