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Improving Comfort When Wearing Braces and Aligners

Orthodontic treatments are an important step on your journey to top-tier oral health and a healthy smile. Unfortunately, they aren’t always the most comfortable experience. On the bright side, the discomfort is normal and usually means the braces or clear aligners are doing their job.

To get the teeth to shift into the right spots, orthodontic treatments apply slight pressure to the teeth, which is the most common source of orthodontic discomfort. With braces, it’s also not unusual for irritation to come from food stuck between the brackets and wires or from small cuts on the inside of the mouth. Adjustments to the braces or aligners can also cause pain to flare up.

Tips to boost your comfort

There are several different solutions you can use to make orthodontic treatments more tolerable. If your braces or aligners are causing significant pain, however, schedule an appointment with an orthodontist.

Heat therapy for relief

Heat is very effective in easing pain. For jaw pain, you can rest a heating pad or warm washcloth against the area. Many people use hot peppermint tea bags to apply heat directly to the gums. In addition to the warmth of the bag, peppermint has medicinal properties that can help reduce inflammation.

Enhancing comfort through cooling

Heat is not the only source of comfort. Ice or other cold substances can help reduce inflammation and briefly numb the area that is hurting. If you don’t have sensitive teeth, you can hold ice in your mouth directly against the spots that are bothering you.

Calming saline solution

Washing your mouth with a simple warm water and salt rinse can help in more ways than one. First, the warmth will provide pain relief. Adding salt to the mix also helps any wounds inside your mouth — like cuts and scratches from braces — heal faster.

Wax for protection

Orthodontic wax is a substance that covers braces to create a softer barrier between the metal and your cheeks and gums. This method can remedy friction and stop your braces from cutting the inside of your mouth. Orthodontic wax is a common product found at most grocery stores or pharmacies.

Options for managing pain

Over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen are great in a pinch to treat higher levels of pain. Remember, if the pain is extreme or persistent, talk to an orthodontist right away. For children who are too young to swallow pills — or anyone who struggles to take them — liquid forms of both ibuprofen and acetaminophen are available over the counter.

Oral hygiene and dietary health

Maintaining your routine dental habits of brushing and flossing is your first line of defense. The healthier your teeth and gums are, the better you’ll be able to handle the discomfort of orthodontic treatments. Brushing and flossing can also ensure you get rid of any trapped food that can cause irritation or cavities. And, of course, remember to avoid foods that can damage your braces.

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