We’re often asked “do braces hurt“. For many patients braces are the unknown, and past visits to the dentist may have been less than enjoyable. Let us reassure you first of all that you have nothing to fear, orthodontics is one of the more gentle branches of dentistry – there are no needles here!
That’s not to say that braces aren’t without a little discomfort though, we are moving teeth after all. So to help you prepare for your orthodontic treatment, here’s our guide on what to expect at the different stages of your journey at Total Orthodontics.
During your initial consultation your orthodontist will gently examine your teeth. Sometimes they will need to take X-rays of your teeth and jaws. Just like the X-rays you have at the dentist these will be completely pain-free – just hold still!
We may also need to take impressions of your teeth. This involves creating moulds of your teeth using a soft putty-like material called alginate. Plastic trays are filled with the alginate and carefully pressed over your teeth, one jaw at a time.
Again, this won’t hurt at all, but some patients don’t particularly enjoy the process as the alginate can take around 30 seconds to set. Just relax and breathe through your nose. If you do have a high gag reflex, let us know and we’ll do everything we can to make your impressions as comfortable as possible.
Regardless of the type of appliance you’ve chosen, the appointment where we fit your braces is nothing to be concerned about. If you have opted for Invisalign, it’s simply a case of us showing you how to insert and remove your aligners, and making sure they fit correctly.
If you are having a fixed brace fitted, your appointment will be slightly longer but equally straightforward. Using a special cement we’ll carefully attach your brace’s brackets to your teeth. Once they’re in position we’ll use a blue light to set them. Then we join the brackets together using a thin metal wire. Depending on your brace, this wire will be held in place using elastic bands or sliding clips.
You might leave this appointment thinking ‘wow, braces don’t hurt at all’ but after a while you may find that your teeth start to ache and the inside of your cheeks become a little sore. These are perfectly normal, albeit unwelcome side effects. Any initial discomfort should only last for a couple of days, and there are a few things you can do to relieve any pain.
Painkillers, the type you would normally take for a headache, can help with any achiness, while a pain relief gel can help to soothe any irritated areas inside your mouth. You can prevent further soreness by attaching orthodontic wax to any areas of your brace that start to rub. Salt water rinses can also relieve your symptoms – just mix a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water, gargle and spit.
Periodically you’ll need to come and see us so we can adjust your brace, or in the case of Invisalign, provide you with your new sets of aligners. Following these appointments you may experience some initial discomfort, but it will quickly subside. Again, if you do experience any problems we recommend taking a mild painkiller to manage your symptoms.
Before you know it your brace will be ready to take off. While this is usually everyone’s favourite appointment, some patients can be a little nervous about having their brace removed.
You’ll be pleased to hear that we don’t remove the brackets from your teeth using brute force. We use a special tool that’s designed to gently clip them off. You may feel some pressure but no pain.
Once your brace has been removed we’ll clean any leftover cement off your teeth, again you might feel some pressure as we do this.
Following your active orthodontic treatment you’ll be provided with a removable and/or fixed retainer. Removable retainers are made using a mould of your teeth, so at the appointment where we remove your brace we’ll take some more impressions. Your retainer will then fit comfortably over your teeth and should be worn as instructed b your orthodontist.
Fixed retainers consist of a thin, stainless steel wire, which we painlessly fix behind your front teeth. This holds your teeth in their new position and should be worn indefinitely.
We hope this information reassures you that braces aren’t that bad. If you are still nervous about coming to see us, let us know and we’ll do our very best to help you feel at ease.