Ouch! My New Braces hurt! What do I do?

Braces Care 101:  What to expect with new braces

Imagine for a moment that you or your child just put on new braces Friday afternoon, you’re super excited but don’t know what to expect!  Will it be painful?  Will my teeth be sore?  For how long?  What’s normal and when should I be concerned?  Calgary Orthodontist Dr. Andrew Chen would like to share some key insights and helpful tips to help guide you through your first few days as you’re getting used to your brand new braces.

Know what’s normal

Everyone is different, but most people will need a normal “getting used to” period to adjust to the feeling of new braces.  General mouth soreness is not unusual, and this tends to get better with every day that goes by.  Children will definitely feel better and recover faster than adults, and we normally have kids in our office report back to us about feeling better in just under 3 days while adults often need about one week to get fully comfortable.

The most common feeling has to do with the active wires in the mouth.  The orthodontic wires used at your first few appointments have what’s known as “shape memory”, which means that the are extremely flexible in order to weave in between the teeth and braces, and will try to return to its original “U” shape once the wires are connected to the braces. This shape memory places light forces on the teeth, which kickstarts the biological processes that allow teeth to move and bone to be remodeled.  Because this process is inflammatory is nature, it is normal to experience some discomfort or pain from these new wires, with the discomfort at its highest during the first 24 hours, then lessening more and more as the week goes on.   If eating or sleeping is an issue because of general mouth soreness, though not mandatory, you may consider using a non-prescription pain medication that you would normal take for a headache.  If it’s for a child, it is extremely important to follow the age/weight guidelines listed on the Directions section of the packaging.   Motrin (Ibuprofen) is recommended due to its anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties.  Tylenol can help, and though it does not have an anti-inflammatory effect, it can reduce pain quite well.

Dental Wax is your Best Friend

With brand new braces, it can be overwhelming what your mouth needs to get used to all at once. Though many parts of the braces system (brackets, molar bands, wires) and smoothed or bent in a way to not pinch your gums, cheeks and tongue, some parts of the braces have corners, hooks, or parts that stick out more than you are used to.

If the discomfort can be traced to a particular part of the braces, what works the best is to apply a small amount of dental wax directly onto the poking/sharp area.

  1. Start by tearing a small pea-sized shape of wax
  2. Soften it by rolling it between your fingers.
  3. Make sure the area is DRY for the wax to stay on, so using a tissue to dry the area works well, then mold the wax around the trouble spot.  The wax can be removed during meals, then re-applied afterwards. It is food grade so accidentally swallowing some wax is no cause for alarm.

Dental wax is your best friend when is comes to these small irritations.  It’s dependable and commonly used to help with a scratchy bracket, but can also help with the back of a pokey wire where some normal shifting of the wire has occurred as the teeth have become straighter.  A little wax goes a long way when it comes to your comfort.

When to call our office

Our website contains helpful videos to guide you as to what to do if you experience a pokey wire or even a loose brace.  These videos (found under the New Patients tab) may save you a trip to the office, or from missing school or work.  Don’t be shy to give us a call though, we’re here to help, and perhaps we can walk you thru some standard home care options.  Many irritations can be handled without you leaving the house, and after trying dental wax, even a household nail clipper, or the eraser end of a pencil can bring relief to a wire that has become loose for example and is causing more than the normal level of discomfort.

If we can determine that what is going on needs a closer look, we will offer to see you at the next available time slot opening if there is something to adjust or repair, or agree to postpone it (if it is more an irritation, and not pain) until your next appointment, where we will allot additional time if indeed a repair is needed.  If the pain is severe and due to something different than what’s we have already covered, and if there are signs of infection, inflammation, pus, or bleeding, please contact our office immediately so that we can determine the cause and take action as soon as feasible.  Note that under these conditions, though no repairs will be made at this visit, we are placing you in the middle of the schedule as a high priority patient, where removing the offending object is the mutual goal so as to provide relief.

We’ve got you covered

Luckily, true orthodontic emergencies are few and far between as even less so with new technologies such as Invisalign for interested Moms, Dads & teenagers.  General discomfort for a few days, a loose brace or a small pokey wire do not require emergency attention, but we always like to hear how you are feeling as we make incredible progress creating your new smile together! As the dental wax said to the pokey brace,  “We’ve got you covered!”

Interested in learning more about Orthodontic care or if Invisalign is right for you? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Chen at Marda Loop Braces by emailing info@mlbraces.com.  You can also call (587) 353-5667  or click our request appointment link from our website www.mlbraces.com


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