One of the most common questions and what seems to be foremost in almost everyone’s mind as they pursue orthodontic treatment: “Are the braces going to hurt?”
The short answer is yes, the braces will make the teeth uncomfortable. The cause of pain with braces is still not completely understood, but has been associated with the changes in blood flow when pressure is applied to the teeth, as well as secretion of certain proteins such as substance p and prostaglandins. It is basically the body’s response to an “injury” i.e. an inflammatory response. Pain is much more complicated than a simple biological response, however, since a patient’s previous experience with pain can affect their future reaction. This is why some patients say their experiences with braces are difficult, whereas others seem to have very little problem. There are also differences between male and female, stress levels, emotional state, and age.
Each person will tend to have an individualized response, so it is critical for the patient to be aware of the options available for minimizing the pain. One of the most effective means of pain control is taking over the counter pain medication prior to the orthodontic appointment. Also be aware of specific advice from an orthodontist, dentist or doctor, as well as the medication instructions regarding the amount, appropriate ages, and side effects before deciding on which medication to take.
Eating soft foods (for example: jelly, ice-cream, custard, soft pasta, cooked or mashed vegetables, soup, eggs, fish, etc.) may also be a way to reduce the amount of pain immediately after an orthodontic appointment.
Sores can sometimes develop on the soft tissues of the mouth (cheeks, lips, and tongue). This is especially common soon after the braces are placed. These tissues usually toughen and develop a callous over time. Oral rinses and topical anaesthetics can be useful during this adjustment period. Mouthwashes can provide antibacterial effectiveness, helping reduce infection and inflammation. Topical anaesthetics can be effective for temporary pain relief. These gels are placed directly on the tissue and can numb the pain for a few hours. Some people have allergies to these medications, so follow the product label instructions, and the advice of the orthodontist/physician before using. Remember the use of orthodontic wax to alleviate discomfort due to rubbing.