Do Braces Hurt?
By Dr. Tyler Coles – Premier Orthodontics
Table of Contents
One of the most common questions orthodontists get is “Do braces hurt?” While there is some discomfort involved with orthodontic treatment, this article should help alleviate any concerns you may have about braces pain in general.
Getting Braces Put On: Does It Hurt?
We’re glad we can start this article with some good news — getting braces put on doesn’t hurt one bit! Getting braces is a pretty simple process. Here’s exactly how it goes:
We dry your teeth using tools that keep your cheeks and lips away from the teeth.
Once your teeth are dry, we bond the braces on the teeth using a dental adhesive.
That’s about it – you’re all done!
(Watch below for a time-lapse video showing a patient getting braces)
There are no shots, needles, or numbing required…
Getting braces put on doesn’t hurt and it takes about 30-40 minutes to get all the braces put on. At our office, you’ll be laying down relaxed in the dental chair (and even get to enjoy watching a movie on Disney +). When it comes to dental appointments, getting braces is pretty easy!
When Do Braces Hurt?
After your braces are bonded on your teeth you can expect your teeth to be sore in about 3-4 hours. If you start to feel soreness at that time, know that this is normal and to be expected.
Getting braces is like running . . . the first time you go for a run, your legs will feel sore the day after. When you continue to run though, your legs adapt and they stop feeling sore…
…your teeth act the very same way!
The first time you get braces put on, you can expect sore teeth to last for about a week. You will never experience major pain. Rather, it will feel like a slight tenderness when you do things with your mouth like chewing. During this first week, you’ll want to avoid chewing anything too hard. To help make that first week go well, we recommend soft foods like…
Mac ‘n’ Cheese
…basically anything soft and easy to chew.
Watch below for a video showing recommended foods to eat when you first get braces.
After the first week, your teeth will adapt and you’ll be able to begin eating regular foods again.
By the time you go back to the orthodontist for your second visit, your teeth won’t hurt at all. At your visit to the orthodontist, they will adjust or activate your braces again…
…this usually means that a large or stiffer wire is placed into the braces.
Reactivating the braces will start the cycle over again and your teeth will be tender again for about four hours after your adjustment. The good news is that the discomfort will be much less than the first time you got your braces on. In fact, most will have sore teeth for only a day or two after their adjustment.
Why Do Braces Hurt, Anyway?
When your braces are put on and then activated with a wire, the wire starts to put pressure on the tooth. As the tooth pushes against the tissue surrounding the root, it sends signals to your body to start removing bone on one side of the tooth and to start building bone on the other side. This is essentially how braces move teeth.
This pressure causes inflammation in the tissues surrounding the teeth which usually results in mild to moderate discomfort.
Your body responds to the inflammatory process in the same way it would to running or lifting weights — you put pressure or tension on your muscles and your body begins to repair the muscles.
As you continue to run or lift weights, you feel less and less sore because your body becomes accustomed to this new process in your muscles.
Likewise, when pressure or tension is placed on your teeth, your body will respond and some soreness will result. The soreness will decrease with time until there is little to no soreness left.
How Long Do Braces Hurt For?
The good news is your braces won’t hurt, or feel sore, the whole time you’re in treatment.
Generally, most patient experiences will go like this…
Day 1 (soreness begins about four hours after getting braces on) We Recommend:
Avoid biting with your front teeth
Eat soft foods
Take Tylenol or Advil right when you get home from your braces appointment (please follow the instructions on the bottle for dosage and amounts)
Days 2 – 7 (The most uncomfortable period of soreness) We Recommend:
Continue with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Tylenol or Advil (keep following the instructions on the bottle). By day 5, you should be feeling much better.
Week 2 (Lingering soreness, light discomfort) We Recommend:
Begin eating normal foods again.
You can likely discontinue pain relievers.
Week 3 (Teeth should feel normal again)
Once you get through the first week that you wear braces and the mild discomfort, you’ve essentially turned the corner and it should be a smooth transition back to feeling normal.
When it’s time to get back into the orthodontist chair and get your braces tightened at your orthodontic appointment, you will go through this cycle again, although it will be much less severe. The first day or two you will have minor soreness that may warrant some over-the-counter pain relievers – but by the third day, you’re usually fine and back to your normal self.
How to Stop Braces Pain
The best way to take the edge off of braces pain while in orthodontic treatment is by taking an over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol or Advil, or whatever you usually take for headaches.
We just urge you to take the dose that is recommended by the manufacturer, whether it’s for you or your child. (You can find these instructions on the medicine bottle of whichever pain reliever you choose.)
If you take an over-the-counter pain medication right before you get your braces put on or adjusted, you will actually beat the soreness to the punch and avoid much of the initial pain. You can then continue to take an over-the-counter medication every 4-6 hours during the first couple of days if you have lingering soreness.
Make sure to consult with your doctor if you are taking any type of medication or have a medical condition that may be affected by an over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol or Advil.
When considering the question, “Do braces hurt?” It’s good to remember that most things in life require some level of discomfort before you start to see an improvement. Whether it’s exercising our body or our mind, we have to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone sometimes to see change. In the case of wearing braces, going outside of our comfort zone will be well worth it when you see the end result.
Getting a perfect smile won’t happen overnight, and it will take some time and some level of discomfort at first, but the result you get from your smile will be worth it.
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