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Do Braces Hurt?

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What to Expect While Wearing Braces

Whether you choose traditional braces or Invisalign, it’s worth noting the treatment is moving your teeth. Healthy teeth generally do an excellent job of staying in place. It’s how we can break down food. So it’s no surprise you’d feel something when an orthodontic appliance starts pulling and pushing on your teeth or jaw structure.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple yes or no answer regarding how an individual will tolerate braces. Some patients may experience minor discomfort, while others may find the process challenging.

When you visit your dentist for routine dental exams, they can get to know you, your teeth, and your tolerance. Your dentist can also give patients a personalized explanation of how their braces can affect their teeth.

Factors to Consider

There are multiple factors to consider before determining if braces will be painful. However, any patient with braces should expect some discomfort. Typically, patients notice discomfort or pain the first few days after initially placing the braces or after an adjustment. Then, as the braces work to shift your teeth, you’ll notice their pull less until there is no discomfort.

The most common factors that impact how a patient feels while wearing braces include:

  • How additional dental concerns can affect comfort
  • How compliant is the patient
  • How the individual patient tolerates discomfort
  • How much realignment is necessary

Additional Dental Concerns

Generally, dentists recommend treating any additional dental concerns before beginning braces. However, dental issues may develop after beginning treatment or may reoccur if treatment isn’t successful. 

For example, gum disease is a common dental problem affecting 70% of Canadians. Gum disease can develop whendental plaque forms along the gumline. When plaque isn’t removed, it can harden into tartar, which is difficult to remove and typically requires a dentist visit. Over time, the build-up causes tooth decay. Gum disease can also cause:

  • Bad breath
  • Bite changes
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Persistent bad taste 
  • Pus between gums and teeth
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Receding gums

Wearing braces requires a new oral care routine. Some patients find adjusting the new methods of flossing and brushing challenging. As a result, dental plaque and tartar can build more quickly, particularly in hard-to-reach spots. 

It’s crucial to schedule regular dental exams, not just adjustment appointments with your orthodontist. Your dentist can help prevent additional oral problems from causing discomfort or affecting your braces treatment.

Patient Compliance

Pain can affect compliance, as patients may be unmotivated to continue a painful treatment. But how effectively a patient follows instructions can also increase the risk of physical discomfort. Braces are vulnerable to damage, so orthodontists give patients a list of foods to avoid.

When braces are damaged, they require repair. The damage can set treatment back or cause injury. Additionally, loose wires or broken pieces can be sharp, potentially scratching or cutting your tongue, cheeks, gums, lips, or oral tissue. Therefore, it’s crucial to book an appointment as soon as possible to repair the damaged braces.

Even when braces are intact, running your tongue along the metal wires and brackets can be tempting. However, there’s a risk of hurting your tongue. Over time, most patients adapt to how to speak and move their tongues to avoid injury.

Tolerance for Discomfort

You may be familiar with someone who barely blinks when they stub their toe or someone who howls with a papercut. Pain tolerance describes how an individual responds to stimuli. 

Someone with a high pain tolerance will still experience the sensation, but the feeling is tolerable. Their pain threshold is higher, so what they consider uncomfortable may be painful for a person with a lower tolerance.

Attaching the brackets does not hurt. Instead, it’s adjustments that cause soreness. A patient with a higher pain tolerance may experience mild discomfort during the first few days after an adjustment. On the other hand, a patient with low pain tolerance may describe the experience as painful.

Invisalign is generally considered more comfortable than braces. However, patients can also expect mild discomfort during the first week and after adjustments. Depending on your pain tolerance and preference, you can become accustomed to braces or Invisalign.

Having previous dental work can help you determine if you have a high or lower tolerance for oral discomfort. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about your concerns about pain tolerance. They can offer more personalized insight into what you can expect.

Realignment Needs

How much daily discomfort you feel is unlikely to be impacted by your realignment needs. However, more complex alignment issues require more time to correct, which may mean more soreness over a more extended period.

Treatment duration can vary depending on the patient’s age and dental needs, but braces typically take 12–24 months. Some patients may barely notice they’re wearing braces after 6 months. However, patients can still feel soreness after adjustments but may tolerate them better.

Talk to Your Orthodontist

Although some discomfort or soreness is normal after getting your braces (or an adjustment), pain shouldn’t be long-lasting. If you experience soreness after an adjustment, try over-the-counter pain medications, apply an icepack outside your mouth, or drink cold water. Contact your orthodontist if pain persists a week or more after your adjustment.

Braces are a highly personalized treatment and how you feel wearing braces is a personal experience. Your orthodontist will work with you to ensure your treatment is appropriate for you.

Book an appointment with Shawnessy Dental today!

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