Here are a few tips on how to deal with discomfort:
- Take over-the-counter medicine if necessary.
Take Tylenol or Advil after your adjustment only if needed. However, before taking any medication, consult with your orthodontist.
- Use an oral anesthetic.
Apply the numbing gel or liquid directly to your teeth and gums with a clean finger or a cotton swab. This topical anesthetic desensitizes the mouth and numbs any gum discomfort. Consult with your orthodontist.
- Apply orthodontic wax.
The metal in your mouth can irritate your cheeks, lips, or gums, especially at the beginning until your mouth gets used to it (almost like a new pair of shoes are not comfortable the first couple of days). Apply the dental wax to the surface of your braces to prevent sores from forming. The braces wax can also be useful if there has been a shift in your bracket that is bothering you, and you have to wait a day or two to see your orthodontist. Apply the orthodontic wax to the pointy edge of the wire to blunt it and keep it from poking you until you visit the orthodontist to have it readjusted.
- Eat soft foods.
Avoid foods that are crunchy and hard, such as raw vegetables and chips, as these will irritate your mouth even more. Instead, eat soft foods that will not irritate your already sensitive mouth, such as mashed potatoes, pudding, yogurt, oatmeal, and soup.
- Use an icepack.
Teeth move because there is light pressure applied to the teeth (in the form of braces or aligners). Teeth can move due to the inflammatory process, therefore sometimes applying cold pressure to the area that is bothering you might be helpful. An ice pack will help to reduce inflammation and relieve oral discomfort.
- Drink cold water.
Ice-cold water numbs the sensation in the mouth and reduces inflammation in the sore gums.
- Rinse with saltwater.
Some people are more prone to get mouth sores (with or without braces), and rinsing your mouth with a warm saltwater solution will help to relieve discomfort and heal the sores faster. Gargle and swish salt water around your mouth for 60 seconds before spitting it out.
- Chew on frozen teething rings.
Although teething rings are intended for infants, they are an extremely effective tool for alleviating any discomfort caused by braces, especially at the beginning when some patients have the “need to bite”. You can chew on a frozen teeth ring if that helps!
- Use a heating pad.
Sometimes the “need to bite” makes the muscles of the cheeks sore (almost like the feeling when you chew gum for hours!). This is just muscle soreness, and a heating pad or a warm washcloth can relieve some of that muscle soreness.
Usually, the discomfort only lasts a couple of days after your appointment (if any!). While the methods mentioned above are just tips… be patient! It goes away and as the teeth move, your bite will start feeling better!