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According to Harvard Health Publications, today’s orthodontic patients come from all ages and walks of life. One out of every five people wearing braces right now is aged 19 or older. Some call this “America’s obsession with a perfect smile.” At King Orthodontics, we view it a little bit differently. After all, what is the closest major organ to the teeth and gums? The brain! The next closest? The heart.
In other words, good oral health is paramount to good health, period. The straighter and more optimally aligned your teeth and jaw become, the easier time you will have brushing, flossing and maintaining excellent oral hygiene. WebMD minces no words in linking periodontal (gum) disease to heart disease.
The good news is, people are definitely sitting up and taking notice, and making the commitment to see an orthodontist for treatment, braving minor discomforts in return for major health rewards. In this article, learn to alleviate any discomfort you may experience after you have your hardware installed and after each adjustment appointment.
Do Braces Hurt?
If we had to analyze all of the questions patients ask us and pick the one we hear the most, the lucky winner would likely be this one. As a species, we prefer life to be pain-free whenever possible, and orthodontic care is no exception. Yet if you ask someone who has had orthodontic treatment how painful it actually was, you probably wouldn’t even hear the word “pain” used. More likely, you would hear words like “discomfort,” “soreness” or “tenderness.”
The process of having your teeth straightened and properly aligned for the best oral health definitely requires some movement of the teeth themselves. This movement is accomplished incrementally in very small steps using sensitive cutting-edge orthodontic methods.
But it is movement nonetheless, and at first, your teeth may kick up a bit of resistance with some soreness or tenderness. Happily, this goes away after the first few days of having your hardware put in place. For adjustments (which are done to keep teeth moving in the right direction), any discomfort usually fades within a day.
The Two Main Types of Orthodontic Discomfort
There are two main categories of discomfort that can crop up during orthodontic treatment. The first type is referenced here in the previous section. This type of discomfort relates to having the hardware installed or adjusted as needed during treatment. The second type can arise when the hardware gets compromised. Usually, because the patient eats the wrong food or there is an unplanned incident that impacts the hardware.
For example, let’s say you’ve been wearing your hardware for a month or two and all is going well. But then one day, without even thinking about it, you absent-mindedly crunch down on a big ice cube in your drink. Your arch-wire pops out and stabs you in the gums. Ouch!
Or let’s say you are playing basketball after school. You jump up to make a basket, but on the way down you land wrong on your ankle and down you go, banging your mouth into the floor and dislodging a bracket, which digs into the sensitive tissue in the inside of your mouth. Again – ouch!
Luckily, these types of incidents tend to be few and far between, and are easily managed by making careful food and beverage choices and wearing mouthguard as needed during athletic events.
Managing the Discomfort During Treatment
Regardless of the type of discomfort you may experience during your treatment, there is a way to manage it effectively right at home or on the go to experience relief as quickly as possible.
General minor aches and pains.
For pain, we recommend taking over-the-counter pain relievers (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, et al). These medications are available without a prescription and can handle minor soreness and swelling. Ice packs can also ease any soreness or tenderness that arises and give you fast relief. Use of ice packs can be alternated with the use of pain relievers with great effectiveness.
Hardware-related aches and pains.
Depending on the type of hardware you are wearing, there are different orthodontic-specific helps that can come to your rescue. One of the most popular is also one of the simplest – orthodontic wax.
This gentle, pliable, neutral wax can be used in a couple of ways, either to temporarily hold together a displaced or dislodged bit of hardware or wiring or to shield the sensitive mouth tissues from sharp hardware edges.
Sanitizing and healing.
For faster healing after injuries, mouth abrasions or hardware adjustments, using a warm salt water gargle in addition to your regular oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing can help your teeth, gums and tissues rally and feel better quite quickly. As a side bonus, warm salt water is a very effective sanitizing agent to fight off infection, neutralize germs and bacteria and keep you healthier during your treatment.
When to Call Your Orthodontist
While minor post-installation or post-adjustment discomfort is completely normal and is something most patients experience, we recognize that every patient’s pain tolerance is different. In other words, what really bothers one patient might not even phase another patient. What matters most to us is to effectively manage your treatment for maximum comfort throughout your course of care.
So if you feel like you are really uncomfortable after you have your hardware installed or after you have come in for an adjustment appointment, don’t hesitate to call our office. We can recommend additional helps to alleviate any pain you may be feeling and give you recommendations for customized relief.
Also, if you ever have an experience where your hardware gets damaged or dislodged, you can use the orthodontic wax as a temporary fix. But then you should call our office right away to schedule an appointment to be seen. This is critical because your hardware is positioned “just so” to give you optimal teeth straightening and alignment results. So if something has moved or come loose, we need to correct it as soon as possible to keep your treatment on track.
Two Extra Emergency Helps
First, we highly recommend the iBracesHelp app, which is a great resource for information. Second, we maintain an answering service for after-hours emergency calls. If you are having an orthodontic emergency, call our office. The answering service will put you in touch with one of our orthodontists right away.
About King Orthodontics
Drs. Jack and Sam King are a second generation father-and-son team. Dr. Jack King first started his practice as a Naval Dental Officer after which he completed his orthodontic residency and joined his father, Dr. Ben King, in his Dayton, Ohio, practice.
Fast forward a few decades, and it is Dr. Jack’s son Sam who is joining the family practice. Today, Drs King and King are proudly carrying on the family tradition by offering each and every patient “the smile of their life!” To schedule a consultation, call our office at (937)433-0830 (Centerville) or (937)878-1561 (Fairborn) or visit us online to learn more.
400 East Dayton
Yellow Springs Road
Fairborn, OH 45324
Phone: (937) 878-1561
Relief From [Braces] Discomfort 2017
I love orthodontics. I love the challenge of creating healthy and beautiful smiles. I love the people I get to meet and interact with on a daily basis. I love taking care of my patients and giving them a smile they can be proud about.