Tips for making braces more comfortable

Many children and adults wear orthodontic braces. Braces can straighten teeth and improve bite health. While adults who wore braces years ago as youngsters likely recall being apprehensive about their appearance back then, thanks to advancements in braces technology, today’s orthodontic braces are less noticeable than braces of yesteryear. In addition, modern braces even feature more effective wires and brackets that can reduce the duration of treatment.

According to Harvard University Health, the science of orthodontics and braces involves placing constant pressure on teeth. The root then presses against the underlying alveolar bone, forcing a portion of the bone next to the root to dissolve, allowing the tooth to incrementally move into the direction it is pushed. After the tooth migrates, new bone will replace the spot where the tooth vacated.

Due to the pressure braces exert, it is common for people who wear braces to experience discomfort. Soreness and discomfort typically occurs when braces are initially put on the teeth and then after various appointments if adjustments are made. The brackets and wires of the braces also may rub the gums or irritate other areas inside the mouth.

Thankfully, there are ways to make wearing braces more comfortable.

• Check for comfort before leaving. During each orthodontist visit, use a finger or your tongue to check for any areas that are poking cheeks or rubbing gums. Bring this to the orthodontist’s attention so that wires can be clipped very short.

• Invest in orthodontic wax. Use the wax to cover up brackets or wires that are causing irritation. Over time, the mouth will get used to the braces and sore spots will not be as prominent.

• Use OTC pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relief products can alleviate soreness for a few hours until the mouth adjusts to the braces being placed or tightened.

• Enjoy soft foods. When teeth are sore, stick to soft foods. Smoothies, soups, stews, mashed potatoes, and yogurt are soft foods that won’t increase your pain.

• Follow the rules. Your orthodontist will recommend that you avoid certain foods that can damage or get caught in the braces. Eating these foods can make it even more uncomfortable to have braces on.

• Practice good hygiene. Braces create more crevices and spots where bacteria can accumulate, which could lead to dental caries. Be sure to floss and brush thoroughly to keep the teeth clean to avoid painful cavities.

Having braces means experiencing some discomfort along the way. However, pain and soreness can often be alleviated using a few simple strategies.

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