Getting braces put on does not usually hurt. The process of getting your braces put on is called “bonding”: this is because the brackets are bonded to each tooth using a special medical-grade glue. A metal archwire is connected to bands or tubes on the back teeth and secured to the brackets.
The bonding process itself is not painful. You might experience some discomfort when the orthodontist and assistants adjust the appliance in your mouth, and many people find that the glue tastes bad, but the feeling of the brackets bonding shouldn’t cause any pain.
The procedure takes about 1-2 hours, and you’ll leave the office with instructions for care and some tools to help you with any discomfort at home.
Once your braces are on your teeth, some pain and discomfort may develop. This is normal, just a sign that your teeth are adjusting to the new appliance. The braces need to apply pressure to straighten your smile, so your teeth, gums, lips, and tongue all need time to get used to the new sensations.
Any of the following are normal types of pain or discomfort:
All of the above are your body’s normal, appropriate responses to the new orthodontic appliance. In the majority of cases, this discomfort fades within the first few days as you adjust to your braces.
Once your braces are on, you will go to the orthodontist regularly for check-ups and tightening. These visits happen every few weeks, generally once every 4-6 weeks for most patients. The orthodontist and assistants tighten the appliance, including the wire and springs, and replace the old elastic rubber bands for new ones.
This tightening can cause some pain, similar to the pain experienced when the braces are first put on.
This pain should fade within 1-3 days after your orthodontic appointment. You can use over-the-counter pain medication to soothe the discomfort or drink or eat a cool beverage like ice cream, popsicles, or even a cool glass of milk.
Generally, getting your braces off does not cause pain: in fact, most patients report that getting braces removed feels good, especially because people are excited to see their beautiful, finished smile.
When your braces are removed – also called de-bonding – the orthodontic team will use a specialized tool to remove the brackets from your teeth and scrape the glue off your teeth. The metal bands on your molars will be loosened and removed and the wire removed as well.
This process isn’t painful, although it may take a while and be uncomfortable to have your mouth open for so long.
Once the de-bonding procedure is complete, you have entered the retention phase. Either your orthodontist will apply a bonded (glued-in) retainer, which goes behind the teeth as a discreet retainer, or you will receive a removable kind of retainer.
Retainers may cause some of the similar kinds of discomfort described above as your mouth adjusts to the new appliance, but you should get used to your retainers as quickly as you adjusted to your braces.
Certain foods can help alleviate any pain or discomfort from your braces.
When you first get your braces put on, eat soft foods for the first few days while your teeth adjust. As the discomfort fades, you can introduce more foods, although you should always avoid hard or crunchy foods that could break or snap your orthodontic appliance.
For most patients, the pain or discomfort experienced with braces fades within a few days, either after braces are put on or after they are tightened during visits to the orthodontist.
Some pain is normal – your teeth need to shift in order to end up in their correct positions, so the pressure on the teeth is required to move them. This pressure can cause a variety of pains, soreness, or discomfort.
The majority of patients report that soreness or pain goes away entirely between 1 and 5 days after braces are put on or tightened. There are a variety of solutions to treat pain at home as described below.
If pain or soreness does not subside or gets worse, you may need to have your braces adjusted, or a part of the appliance may be loose or improperly affixed. Contact your orthodontist to discuss your case and see if you should come in for a visit.
There are several methods to handle braces pain at home.
If the pain does not fade or gets worse, your braces may need to be adjusted or checked for loose pieces. Contact your orthodontist if you have ongoing pain.