braces hurt

Will My Braces Hurt?

Austin, TX – A very common question orthodontists are asked is “will wearing braces hurt?” While no orthodontic treatment is without a little bit of discomfort, wearing braces should not be extremely painful. Because orthodontic treatment is moving bones in the mouth, discomfort can be expected after some appointments, especially after the initial bonding appointment.

“Patients often come to their first appointment nervous and a bit anxious,” says Dr. Silvana Gonzalez of Pure Smiles Orthodontics. “The initial appointment is the easiest one of all, though – all we do is look at your smile, take some photos and X-rays, and decide what treatment is necessary. Then, we set you up for the appointment to place the brackets and wires. That appointment should be pain-free, but I want all of my patients to feel comfortable and informed about what is going to happen, so I always take the time to discuss any apprehensions or concerns my patients may have prior to placing their braces.”

While there shouldn’t be any pain felt when the brackets are adhered to the teeth, once the wire becomes engaged, it is common to feel a bit of tenderness or discomfort. This typically lasts for a few days to a week as the mouth adjusts to the braces.

Your mouth not only has to get used to the pressure being exerted to move the teeth to their new locations, but the feeling of the brackets and wires, as well. Some patients may feel some irritation while the cheeks and lips get used to the sensation. Orthodontic wax is a great tool to use in the areas that are causing irritation. A little balled up wax will go a long way to soften any spots that feel rough in your mouth.

In the first few days and weeks, as your teeth are beginning to shift, you may experience some discomfort. Sticking to a soft food diet and over-the-counter pain medication (acetaminophen preferably) can offer additional relief during this transition. Some studies also show that gum can relieve discomfort faster, just make sure you chew one that has Xylitol as the main component.

After your braces are initially placed, you will need to visit the orthodontist regularly, at Pure Smiles Ortho we see patients with braces every 10 to 12 weeks. At these appointments, your orthodontist will make adjustments to ensure the wire is actively engaged so it can guide the teeth to their new locations. Oftentimes a new wire will replace the previous one and will apply a new force to your teeth, so you may notice they are a bit sensitive again for the first couple of days after these appointments. Again, it is a good idea to stick to softer foods during these periods.

“I want patients to know that this discomfort means the braces are doing what they are meant to do,” says Dr. Gonzalez. “Your braces have a very big job to do, which is moving teeth through bone, therefore some sensitivity and discomfort is expected and considered normal. But the good news is the braces we use today, which are called self-ligating are more efficient than ever before, and they require less force to guide the teeth.”

There are many ways you can help relieve any discomfort you may feel. Popsicles or other frozen treats can help numb the mouth in a tasty way. Anbesol or other topical analgesics can help to numb pain in a certain area. Warm saltwater rinses are excellent for healing any irritations in the mouth. Use orthodontic wax as needed, and if the pain is too much, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever in moderation.

While minor discomfort is common, it is important to let your orthodontist know if you experience any unusual pain, such as:

  • Sudden sharp pains in a tooth or your gums
  • Poking or stabbing feeling
  • Bleeding
  • Chipped teeth
  • Pain that lasts longer than 4-5 days after an appointment
  • Extreme sensitivity to temperatures

If any of these symptoms are present, call your orthodontist’s office as it will help them know how to manage your case and guide you so you can have a better experience.

If you have questions about braces for you or your loved ones, please call Pure Smiles Orthodontics today to schedule a complimentary consultation at 512-215-2520 or you can submit or form online at