How To Manage Discomfort From Braces
Misalignment issues can compromise the health, function, and appearance of the smile. Orthodontics adjust the position of the teeth or jaw, so that the smile is straighter and oral functions can be performed with ease and comfort.
The most common orthodontic treatment is braces. Braces use a series of brackets and wires to encourage oral movement. Unfortunately, braces have a reputation for being painful. While braces should not cause significant pain, they can be uncomfortable. Here, orthodontist Kelly Hodges, who serves individuals in Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, and Bensalem, PA, offers tips on how to manage discomfort from braces so that treatment goes smoothly.
Oral Anesthetics and Pain Relievers
Braces discomfort is usually not long-lasting. Often, individuals struggle with discomfort or irritation when they first have their braces put on, and then for a day or two following each check-up appointment (when the braces are tightened). To manage discomfort during these brief periods, patients should consider using an oral anesthetic or over-the-counter pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers alleviate irritation and can assist with mild inflammation. Oral anesthetics can be applied directly to the teeth and gums to numb the area and ease sensitivity.
Ice packs, or any other cold objects, can be useful in numbing irritation and reducing inflammation. Ice packs can be applied to the outer cheek near the area where soreness is a concern. Cold foods and beverages can also provide some comfort, so this may be the perfect time to drink extra ice water or treat yourself with ice cream or a popsicle.
One potential source of discomfort during braces treatment is cuts. Metal brackets and wires can rub against the gums, inner cheeks, or other soft tissues of the mouth and cause minor scratches or cuts. Orthodontic wax can be placed over braces brackets to protect oral tissues from irritation. The wax creates a barrier so that braces do not rub directly against the inside of the mouth.
Warm Salt Baths
If cuts or scrapes do develop, warm salt baths are a great treatment option. Warm salt water can help clean out wounds to promote healing, while also providing relief from discomfort. For optimal results, individuals should rinse with warm salt water for between 30 and 60 seconds before spitting into the sink. Rinses can be repeated as frequently as necessary until cuts heal. Just make sure that the water is not too hot.
Oral discomfort is most common the first few days following braces placement, and then in the day or two after braces have been adjusted. To ease discomfort during these windows of time, patients should avoid hard, crunchy, or sticky foods. Soft foods like eggs, yogurt, and mashed potatoes tend to be easier on the teeth and jaw.
Dr. Kellyn Hodges offers a number of orthodontic treatments to straighten the teeth and jaw so that people can enjoy a straighter, healthier smile. If you’d like to learn more about these services and which may be right for you, send us a message online.