Getting braces can be an exciting time, but the pain that comes with them may cause some apprehension. Braces pain is very common, especially in the first week after getting braces. Fortunately, the pain is temporary and there are many ways to manage it. With some patience and care, the pain will subside and you’ll be left with a beautiful, straight smile.
What causes braces pain?
Braces pain is caused by the pressure placed on your teeth and surrounding oral tissues as the braces shift your teeth into proper position. The brackets, wires, and elastic bands exert force on your teeth to guide them into alignment. This continuous pressure causes inflammation in the area, leading to soreness and discomfort.
Your teeth themselves may also feel sore due to the change in position. The periodontal ligament which surrounds the tooth root becomes compressed as your teeth are moved. This can make your teeth feel loose or achy temporarily.
When does braces pain start?
Most patients begin experiencing braces pain within 24 hours after their braces are placed or adjusted. The first week is generally the worst for pain. The soreness usually peaks between 24-72 hours after your orthodontic work before gradually improving over the next few days.
You may also have mild to moderate pain after each adjustment appointment as your braces are tightened. As your teeth shift throughout treatment, it continues to place pressure on your jaw which can cause some tenderness.
How long does braces pain last?
While the worst pain is within the first week, braces discomfort can come and go throughout treatment. Here’s a general timeline of what to expect:
- First 24 hours – Pain and pressure as your teeth adjust
- 2-3 days – Worst pain and soreness
- 1 week – Discomfort starts improving but may still be present
- 2-4 weeks – Pain typically resolves but teeth may still be tender
- After adjustments – Mild soreness for 1-3 days
This timeline can vary based on your individual pain tolerance and how extensive your orthodontic work is. While your teeth are still shifting, some sensitivity or achiness is normal. The pain typically decreases over time as your teeth adjust to the changes in your bite.
How to manage braces pain
Braces pain can be unpleasant, but fortunately there are many ways to get relief:
Non-prescription anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help ease orthodontic soreness. Take as directed on the packaging.
Benzocaine gels or rinses numb your gums and teeth temporarily to provide targeted pain relief.
Applying cold compresses against your cheeks can reduce inflammation and discomfort. You can use an ice pack wrapped in a towel or try cold spoon compresses.
Salt water rinses
Gentle rinsing with warm salt water helps keeps your mouth clean and soothes irritated tissues.
Stick to soft, easy-to-chew foods for the first few days to put less pressure on your tender teeth.
Apply wax over any rough or poking braces to prevent further irritation.
Orthodontic relief wax
Special waxes designed to temporarily fill gaps under braces and cushion sore spots.
Your orthodontist can apply dental resin to smooth any sharp or protruding braces.
When to call your orthodontist
While some tenderness is expected, severe braces pain that persists beyond the first week may indicate an issue. Contact your orthodontist if you experience:
- Unrelenting pain
- Pain lasting longer than 10-14 days
- Loosening or breakage of bands, brackets or wires
- Cheek, lip or gum injuries
- Visible swelling
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold
Scheduling an adjustment appointment or having your orthodontist evaluate the fit of your braces can help resolve persistent pain problems.
Does braces pain ever fully go away?
Your mouth will take some time to adjust to your braces, so some tenderness may come and go, especially after tightening appointments. However, severe constant pain that doesn’t improve with over-the-counter relief methods is not normal.
With proper orthodontic care and good oral hygiene, braces pain typically resolves within a couple weeks. Your orthodontist can recommend the best ways to keep pain under control throughout treatment.
Tips for minimizing braces pain
You can help reduce the amount of discomfort you experience with braces by:
- Taking over-the-counter pain medication as directed before appointments
- Using orthodontic wax regularly
- Eating a soft food diet after adjustments
- Avoiding very hot or cold foods and beverages
- Rinsing your mouth gently with warm salt water
- Maintaining excellent oral hygiene
- Attending all scheduled adjustment visits
When does braces pain go away for good?
Once your braces are removed after completing orthodontic treatment, any residual tenderness or soreness in your jaw and teeth should fully resolve within a few days. Removing the constant pressure on your teeth allows your mouth to rest and recover.
For most patients, the pain and hassle of braces is worth it in the end for an amazing new smile. While braces can be uncomfortable at times, the discomfort is only temporary. Focus on the end results and talk to your orthodontist about the best pain relief options for smooth sailing through treatment.
Braces pain is very common but fortunately temporary. The first few days after getting braces and adjustments are typically the worst for discomfort. While braces can cause tenderness on and off during treatment, severe constant pain is not normal. Staying on top of pain management and maintaining good oral hygiene habits can help minimize braces pain. Within a couple weeks, your teeth will adjust to the changes in pressure and most soreness subsides, leaving you one step closer to the smile you’ve always wanted!