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How to Stop Pain Caused by Braces

How to Stop Pain Caused by Braces

Orthodontic treatment aims to straighten your teeth, helping you achieve a healthy and aesthetically pleasing smile. However, tightening appointments can sometimes lead to discomfort. Here, our Langley orthodontists talk about the causes of pain when you have braces and what you can do to stop it.

What causes pain when wearing braces?

While orthodontic treatment using braces is beneficial for straightening your beautiful smile and treating issues like malocclusion, you may experience some discomfort right after they are put on and after each tightening appointment.

Some of this pain is caused by the physical pressure the braces exert on your teeth as they move them. Another potential cause of discomfort is friction, which occurs when the brackets and wires rub on and irritate the mouth's soft tissues.

The good news is that the pain for each of these issues is only temporary. Below, we go into further detail about the different parts of your braces and offer tips on how to help ease any pain you may experience.

What are the different parts that make up your braces?

Your braces have several different pieces that all work together to create the movement needed for orthodontic treatment. The pieces that make up your braces are:


Archwires can be made of nickel, titanium, copper titanium or stainless steel. They connect the brackets and control the movement of teeth.


Brackets are small square pieces made of metal. They allow even pressure to be applied to teeth, helping to shift them into their proper positions.

Metal Rings (Molar Bands)

These are metal bands placed on the back molars. They provide a sturdy anchor for the archwires.


O-rings are small rubber rings that help to secure the archwire to the brackets.

10 Tips for Braces Pain Relief

While pain from braces usually doesn't last very long, there are ways that you can help to reduce it. Here are ten tips for how to stop pain from braces immediately after tightening:

1. Use an ice pack.

Using an ice pack on the outside of your mouth in short intervals can help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by braces.

2. Take over-the-counter pain medicine.

If you typically have pain after each tightening appointment, you could take a dose of pain medication shortly before your appointment to prevent discomfort before it begins.

Follow the dosage instructions very carefully and never take more than the daily recommended dosage. These types of medications aren't meant for long-term use, so if you continue to feel pain, you should contact your orthodontist.

3. Desensitize your teeth with oral anesthetics.

You can apply an oral anesthetic using your finger or a cotton swab to the areas experiencing pain. This can provide temporary relief while the worst of the pain passes.

4. Drink ice water.

If you are unable to use any of the options above, you could try taking small sips of ice water once you return home from your appointment. Ice water can help numb the pain and reduce sensitivity. Avoid warm water. 

5. Apply orthodontic wax.

Your orthodontist may provide you with an orthodontic wax that you can use to protect the inside of your cheeks, lips and gums. This wax creates a barrier, preventing the soft tissues from getting scratched or irritated by the sharp ends of the brackets on your braces.

Be sure to follow the instructions provided by your orthodontist. To use the wax, mould it over the brackets, remove it before brushing your teeth and reapply it after meals.

6. Eat soft foods.

If you have braces, you will need to be conscious of what you eat. Many foods, like gum, chewy foods, and hard candy, can no longer be eaten. These foods can become stuck in your braces and cause a mess, a broken bracket or another orthodontic emergency.

Some foods may also cause discomfort right after you have your braces put on and after tightening. You may want to stick to soft foods like bananas, soup or oatmeal after these appointments.

This doesn't only apply to braces. Even those using Invisalign experience discomfort after switching to a new set of aligners. So, no matter which type of orthodontic treatment you choose, you should keep this in mind.

7. Massage your gums.

In the same way that a message helps to loosen muscles and relieve pain in other parts of the body, it can help with pain caused by braces.

You can use the tips of your fingers and firm but gentle pressure and massage your gums in a circular motion. You can even rub your gums with ice prior to massaging them to reduce inflammation and reduce pain.

8. Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater.

Swishing warm saltwater around your mouth can not only feel nice on your gums, but it can also help heal any cuts or sores caused by braces rubbing.

9. Be patient with yourself and the process.

We know that the pain and discomfort from braces can be irritating, but be patient. It doesn't take long to pass and the straighter, healthier smile that you are working to achieve is worth it.

10. Practice good dental hygiene.

Orthodontic treatment can span many months, in some cases years. During this time, you will need to thoroughly clean your teeth after each meal to remove food and other debris that may be caught in your braces. You should floss, brush and use mouthwash to eliminate food and bacteria, keeping your mouth and teeth clean and healthy.

Taking care of your teeth prevents oral conditions caused by bacteria and decay. don't hesitate to reach out to your orthodontist if you need any advice regarding caring for your teeth during orthodontic treatment.

When to Call Your Orthodontist

You should call your orthodontist if you have no improvement after taking ibuprofen or if the discomfort is caused by issues like loose brackets, bent wires or wires that are poking the inside of your cheeks.

Are you experiencing pain or discomfort while wearing braces? Contact our Langley orthodontists for more advice and to request a quick checkup.

Book your first smile consultation with our Langley Orthodontists today.

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