How to Alleviate Discomfort after Putting on Braces
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Getting braces to correct dental misalignment may be one of the smartest decisions you’ll ever make. Whether for parent or child, dental wires can make a huge improvement in a person’s appearance, health, and confidence. Getting fitted with a product like Invisalign may open the door to a brighter and more attractive future.
However, the path to beauty is sometimes painful, at least temporarily. Some adolescents or patients of any age may feel a degree of discomfort after being fitted with Invisalign or other forms of corrective dental wiring. This is due to several factors. One is the presence of steely wires wrapped around teeth in the mouth. The unfamiliar sensation can be hard to get used to at first. Another adjustment is the tightness of the metal brackets and wires, which begin to imperceptibly but consistently push the teeth together to fill gaps and turn in the right direction. A third issue is the discomfort of chewing while wearing braces. Many new patients accidentally tear their lips or bite their cheeks while trying to manipulate food during meals and snacks.
Fortunately, there are several steps new orthodontic patients can take to minimize pain and discomfort as they get used to their new wires. All are easy and convenient.
Follow a soft diet at first
Liquids like broth, milkshakes, and smoothies are a great way to get used to food intake the first few days. As patients get used to these items, soft foods are the next reasonable step. Gelatins, yogurt, applesauce, mashed potatoes, and smoothies are fairly easy to be managed, and can be eaten in small bites if needed.
Ease into regular foods.
Gradually eat more normal foods like stews, meat entrees, and vegetable side dishes. Take smaller bites and chew carefully to avoid discomfort. Try not to rush through a meal or snack. Take your time and enjoy it, which will make it easier for your wired teeth to process.
Avoid crunchy or chewy foods.
The orthodontist will probably give you a list of foods to avoid. These often include popcorn, nuts, and other hard-to-chew foods that can be painful if they get stuck between the wires and your teeth. Anything that is brittle, hard, or sticky could become a problem. Follow the doctor’s orders and call the office if you have questions about what is acceptable or advisable to eat.
Take precautions with physical activities.
Sports participation may require special precautions while wearing dental wires. Ask the doctor if you should play sports or engage in other similar physical activities, and whether there are special precautions you should take. Be careful with any physical activities that could jar your mouth and possibly damage your wires, which could be painful.
Report suspected problems.
If your wires feel different at any point, or if one breaks off or becomes loose, call the office to inform the orthodontic team. Broken or damaged wires can be painful, and the orthodontist can promptly handle the problem to reduce irritation.
Practice daily dental hygiene.
Keep your wired teeth clean and free of food debris. Brush after eating, using the orthodontist’s recommended toothpaste and rinse, if any. Floss your teeth with the special threader and floss provided or recommended by the orthodontic office. If you are dining out or with friends while eating and cannot brush or floss, rinse your mouth with water to remove some of the debris until you get home. Not only will you minimize the risk of cavities, but your mouth will be more comfortable without crumbs wedged between the wires.
Keep scheduled orthodontist appointments.
Your orthodontic team will evaluate your progress periodically. Be sure and keep these appointments, as they will help you to stay on schedule for completing the necessary work in a timely manner. The sooner the teeth move into their correct positions, the sooner you can have the wires removed. Also, during a checkup any new or persistent problems can be noted and treated before they get worse. Mention any ongoing or new mouth pain related to the wires that you may be experiencing. Chances are good the doctor can address the problem to make you more comfortable.
It is also important to see your dentist for recommended cleanings and checkups. Failure to do so may lead to inflamed gums or cavities, which are painful in themselves. Regular dental checkups work in tandem with orthodontic treatment to keep your teeth healthy and strong.
Some people are more tolerant of pain than others. Certain orthodontic patients may experience more mouth discomfort due to the type of treatment they are getting. Over-the-counter pain medication can help to reduce occasional discomfort. Ask the doctor if serious pain develops or persists.
Receiving orthodontic treatment is a wonderful opportunity to improve your dental health and appearance. It can also enhance your confidence and well-being. Not every patient experiences significant discomfort, but if you do, consider the preceding steps to minimize or eliminate pain and ensure a more comfortable treatment process. Before you know it, you’ll have a brand new look, and any discomfort will have been worth it. For more information or if you have questions, contact Nease & Higginbotham Orthodontics.
Dr Nease graduated as Valedictorian from Cocke County (TN) High School in 1988 and graduated from the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!) in 1992. He then attended the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in Memphis, TN, where he earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree as Valedictorian of his graduating class in 1996. He remained at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry for his orthodontic training, and received his Master of Dental Science (MDS) degree in June of 1999. He immediately joined the practice of Dr. Phil Higginbotham in Spartanburg, beginning a wonderful professional relationship and friendship that endures today.