Does Getting Braces Hurt? Not Really…

Here’s What You Can Expect Before, During and After Placing Braces


It’s normal to have concerns about the process of getting braces for yourself or your child. One common question that patients tend to ask their orthodontist frequently is, “Does getting braces hurt”?  Well, let’s talk about what you can expect to experience before, during and after placing orthodontic braces.

Before the Braces

During the initial consultation, the orthodontist will examine the patient’s mouth and face to determine whether he/she will benefit from orthodontic treatment with braces. In some patients, issues such as misalignment or crowding of the teeth can cause discomfort, especially with chewing or biting. It’s important to address orthodontic issues as such, not only to achieve a more aesthetically-pleasing smile – but to prevent any further pain or damage the condition could potentially cause.

A Friendly Procedure

Many patients find that the placement process itself is quite comfortable.During a typical brackets placement, we go through two main phases:

  1. A cheek retractor is used to keep the teeth dry and visible. The teeth are then polished and conditioned to ensure that the brackets successfully bond. A special adhesive material is applied to the teeth to further strengthen the bonding process.
  2. The brackets are cemented onto the teeth and hardened with an LED light beam.The wires are then placed in the brackets and fastened with ligatures – which may be rubber O-rings, or tiny, fine wires.

It’s normal to experience a little pressure in the final phase. All patients will experience pain differently, with some experiencing hardly any at all. Soreness is usually felt in the several hours following placement. This should generally last no longer than two days, and can effectively be reduced with the help of over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol or Advil.

 Your Braces Are Finally Placed! Now What?

Beyond the surface, your braces are working by generating a force that is slowly shifting the teeth into the desired position.A process referred to as “bone remodeling”, the body begins to adjust to this shifting by dissolving bone in the areas where force is being exerted, and then regenerating bone in the areas the teeth have been moved to. It’s like magic!

Fortunately, discomfort significantly decreases after the first 3 days or so as the mouth adjusts. This bearable, virtually negligible pain is a small price to pay on your journey to a straighter smile.

Minimal Discomfort for a Beautiful, Functional Smile

Orthodontic treatment with braces may feel like a slow process for some, but at the end of the rainbow… most patients agree that their treatment was well worth the wait, and can’t stop smiling about it (literally!). Any discomfort that you may experience with your treatment only indicates that your braces are working.You’ll manage… especially considering the payoff of a stunning, straighter smile.

What Can I Do to Shorten the Duration of My Orthodontic Treatment?

I Want My Braces off on Time!

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Obviously, the treatment duration of an orthodontic case is determined to a great extent by its complexity.  However, even having the best orthodontist in the world is no substitute for the patient doing his/her part when it comes to reaching the desired result in the shortest time possible.
Here are some of things that you, the patient, can do to speed things up:

  • Avoid hard/sticky/crunchy foods, such as tortilla chips or hard breads, caramel, crunchy chocolate bars, or solid and gummy candies that can cause loose brackets or break your orthodontic appliances. Having multiple loose brackets or broken appliances will delay your treatment, because your follow up appointments’time will be spent on fixing your orthodontic appliances as opposed to being utilized on working to achieve the next step of your treatment. In addition, treatment can be delayed because on some occasions, back steps need to be taken after fixing your orthodontic appliances as opposed to picking up where treatment was before.
  • Make sure to do the things your orthodontist advises you to do with regards to wearing your elastics, your clear trays (in case of Invisalign®) and any removable appliances exactly the way you are instructed. You don’t expect your physician to treat you without taking the medications he or she prescribed,so similarly, you have to follow your orthodontist’s instructions to achieve the desired result.  I always tell my patients that following instructions during orthodontic treatment (such as wearing elastics) is like rolling a rock uphill.  You can’t slack before reaching the top of the hill, otherwise things will regress backwards!
  • Make sure not to miss your orthodontic appointments and to show up on time. Needless to say that being present in the dental chair as required for each step of your orthodontic treatment is crucial for your treatment to be completed as planned.  Also, showing inflexibility as far as the times and days of your appointments’ scheduling can cause a delay in treatment,simply because your appointment might end up being pushed further to accommodate the exact time and day you are demanding.
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene routine. In addition to all the other issues that poor oral hygiene can lead to, it can make it hard for your orthodontist to work around your braces due to any inflamed and enlarged gums.

Working Together for an Efficient and Productive Treatment

So, the next time the million-dollar question pops into your mind about when your braces or appliance will finally come off, make sure to go over the above list to see if your role in your own treatment has been a constructive obstructive one. After all, an efficient treatment with a great out come is best attained through a joint team effort between the patient and his/her orthodontist.