When most people think about having braces, the first thing they imagine is the immense pain associated with it. Some people even think that they will have to use a straw to take their meals every day!
Well while this might be possible in cartoons and movies, it almost always never happens in real life. You see, the act of getting braces itself is not painful, so get that image out of your head!
Once braces are fitted, people usually experience discomfort for the first few days because the teeth and mouth have not gotten used to having them. The discomfort usually goes away after a few days or at most one week.
People having braces do sometimes have pain or discomfort in their mouths but this is mainly due to the sores and discomfort caused by the braces rubbing against the cheeks, teeth and lips. When this happens, there are various quick ways to make sure the discomfort goes away:
1. Taking Pain Relief Medication
This is the most obvious solution. Taking painkillers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help to relieve pain in the jaws and gums. This deep pain is normally brought about by the gradual shifting of one’s teeth as they get used to the new braces.
Pain relievers are not the best solution however as they can be addictive. They are still recommendable if your doctor prescribes adequate amounts for a short period of time.
2. Eating Cold or Frozen Treats
Yes, you heard me right, eat as much cold treats as you like! Now, I’m pretty sure the kids love hearing this, so let me explain to the worried grownups how this actually works; frozen treats help to numb the teeth and any area in the mouth and cheeks where there might be sores. This acts as a quick relief and even helps treat swollen gums.
3. Using the Orthodontist Wax
Most orthodontists give their patients a special wax after each adjustment appointment.
Wax for braces provides a kind of barrier between the inside part of the lips and cheeks and the bracket of the braces. This barrier prevents irritating your gums as well.
Applying orthodontic wax to the teeth, braces and gums greatly helps to reduce discomfort caused by the braces.
So, how does this magic wax work?
Well, when the braces are fitted, you might feel a protruding arch wire that is scratching the inner part of your mouth. The wax helps to reduce the friction between the brace, teeth and gums.
Break off some wax from its container and squish some with your fingers to form a small mold. Place this mold directly on whatever bracket causes irritation. Don’t worry if you accidentally swallow some of it since dental wax is not toxic. Remember to take off this wax mold before brushing and flossing your teeth. Applying more wax right after a meal is recommended after your initial applications have broken down over time as wax tends to do.
4. Rinsing with Warm Salt Water
The other quick pain remedy is to use rinse with simple warm salt water. Salt has natural curing properties so next time you are going to have your braces adjusted, just gurgle some salt water. Salt water also helps to heal the sores, cuts and ulceration in your inner mouth and gums. So whenever you feel any discomfort, just rinse your mouth with salt water to hasten the healing process.
5. Massaging Your Gums
This is another effective brace pain remedy and the best thing about it is that you don’t even have to go to a masseuse to get it done! Just use one of your fingers to gently rub around your gums. For better results, stroke the gums with a block of ice before massaging them. This will help to relax swollen gums.
6. Practicing Better Dental Hygiene
Believe it or not, most pain experienced by people having braces is caused by poor dental hygiene! As a reminder to all brace wearers: when you have braces, cleaning your teeth alone just isn’t enough; you also have to thoroughly clean your braces!
Braces and other dental implements attract stains from chewing food and drinking beverages which can build up plaque in the teeth and stain them.
This is the reason why a majority of orthodontists strongly advice on brushing and flossing immediately after meals to remove food particles which may have stuck in your teeth.
You see, braces have rough edges that hide dental plaque. With time, the braces accumulate enough plaque that can cause dental conditions such as dental caries. So, to avoid this, always remember to brush your teeth after every meal, clean your braces well, floss regularly * and use mouthwash.
How to Brush Teeth with Braces Correctly
Use a toothpaste with fluoride and/or a mouthwash with fluoride as one of its main ingredients to rinse out food articles and act as a safeguard for those places in your mouth and teeth which a toothbrush may find hard to reach.
- Brush EACH tooth with braces from the top down and up from the bottom carefully and gently.
- After you have brushed ALL of your teeth with braces, use an interproximal brush *. Insert this down starting from the top and then going up from the bottom between two of the braces.
- Make sure that you use several brushing strokes toward each direction before you move on to
a nextspace between two of the braces.
- Repeat this procedure until ALL of your teeth have been thoroughly cleaned.
Here is a step-by-step guide for effective flossing when you have braces:
- Feed the floss’ short end through that space between your teeth’s uppermost portion closest to your gum and the main arch wire of your braces.
- Using a gentle sawing-like motion, work the dental floss on each of the side of those two teeth where the floss is in between.
- Remember not to use force around the arch wire of your braces.
7. Chewing More
That’s right chew a little bit more. Chewing helps to exercise your mouth increasing the blood flow to supporting structures in around the teeth. This, in turn, helps to heal the sores and lesions in your mouth reducing the associated discomfort. Care should, however, be taken to ensure brace wearers only chew soft materials that will not cause decay to the teeth such as sugar-free gum or Twizzlers.
Foods to Avoid
Those who wear braces can still eat the foods they enjoy by cutting them into small portions or pieces to make chewing easier. There are certain foods, however, which need to be avoided altogether:
- Tough-textured foods and those with hard surfaces such as bagels, hard rolls, and apples.
- Sticky foods which need to be chewed thoroughly before swallowing like caramel soft candy and taffy.
- Corn that is on the cob (slice off the kernels from the cob to enjoy corn).
- Snacks items such as nuts, hard variety pretzels, raw carrots, and popcorn.
- Ice cubes.
- Bubble gum and chewing gum.
- Beef jerky and ribs (take off the meat from the bones and you can eat them).
- Chicken wings (cut off the meat from off bones if you want).
- Pizza crusts, pickles, and fruit roll-ups.
Avoiding Injuries by Wearing Mouthguards
Wearing braces and engaging in sports can be a cause for injury. This is why mouthguards for braces is necessary for protection in contact sports such as basketball, boxing, wrestling, lacrosse, field and ice hockey, volleyball, football, and baseball. Even participation in non-contact athletics such as mountain biking, badminton, gymnastics, skateboarding, and tennis may pose risks of mouth injury.
The type of mouthguard – customized by a dentist or the usual boil and bite — will depend on the kind of sport you plan to engage in. Molded mouthguards by dentists tend to be expensive; the purchase of a generic mouthguard which you can mold yourself may be a cheaper option. You may also want to consider mouthguards in wider versions and double mouthguards in boil and bite and flexible varieties.
On a final note, remember that you will always need fluoride protection against cavities. When you wear braces, the risk of tooth decay may become higher since it is really so much harder to maintain clean teeth with braces on.
Ask your orthodontist for additional protection in the form of products which boost fluoride supply to your teeth while you’re wearing braces such as those that are capable of repairing early cavities in the roots of your teeth.
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