Braces: Dealing with the Pain

A friend just got braces put on today and is having trouble dealing with the pain. I never had braces, so I’m not really sure what he’s going through or what to tell him. Does anyone have any recommendations? I’m looking for anything: over-the-counter stuff, any painkillers he might be able to get a prescription for, home remedies, whatever.

He had some Lortabs left over after a knee problem, but he says he took one and it didn’t help. I usually take ibuprofen for all of my analgesic needs, but I’m not sure if that would help him or not.

Thanks in advance for any help you’re able to give me.

I’ve never had braces, but my son did. His mouth hurt for two or three days after the initial installation, and then for a few hours to a day after each adjustment. He took regular OTC pain killers and stuck to soft foods until the pain faded, and we tried to keep him busy/entertained to take his mind off it.

The tooth pain is going to be a real bummer for a few days. Time will take care of that. He may also find that the inside of his mouth is irritated from being scraped by the braces. My orthodontist gave me some kind of wax to coat them with to reduce the rubbing. Since eating is going to be awkward at first and it’s a pain to clean your teeth properly, he may want to switch to a liquid/mushy diet for a few days.

Reassure him that the pain will go away and he will eventually get used to having them.

I’ve had braces put on as an adult as part of some repair work to a damaged tooth (damage was under the gumline so they had to drag it out a bit in order to cap it).

As others have said, they hurt like hell for a few days after installation and every time they get tightened. The pain does go away though, so I personally just let it run its course.

Send your friend a link to Archwired:

I had braces as an adult just a couple years ago and found that site to be a valuable resource.

The archwires of most braces these days are made of temperature sensitive material. When the wire is cold it is loose and pliable, but when it heats up to body temperature it becomes rigid. Eating or drinking cold food can help immensely.

Other than that, OTC pain relievers help. It’s worse right after an adjustment and during the first couple of months, but it does get better and it’s totally worth it!

I can commiserate with your pal.
Both my husband and I currently have braces. All 5 of our kids have had them in the past.

Ibuprofen, which generally doesn’t offer much relief for my other aches and pains, works pretty well for my tooth and mouth pain. I keep some in my desk at work, in my purse, in my car, you name it.

JET’s post is great, she pointed me to the site she linked to when I first had my braces put on in February. It’s a pretty good website.

Cold definitely helps after a tightening for me. A chocolate shake is pure heaven.
The first week or so is pretty rough, but it’ll get better. I was absolutely miserable after having mine put on. I had a head cold which just made things worse, and I was in so much pain and discomfort I very seriously considered going right back to my Ortho to have them removed. It got better. Only another year and a half to go! :wink:

If it’s so bad a Lortab didn’t help, I don’t think a call to the orthodontist would be remiss. I don’t think it’s supposed to hurt that badly. Mine never hurt more than a regular Tylenol would take care of.

Eh, I think everyone reacts to pain differently so it is hard to say. There’s nothing about braces that will kill you so it’s mostly a matter of what you can tolerate. I experienced pain so bad I wanted to rip all of my teeth out some days, but it was always temporary.

It’s a combination of how much movement and tension your particular case requires. I had to shift midlines in opposite directions on top and bottom and I had to move forward and rotate several teeth. This meant 2 full years of powerchains and elastics, half of that time spent in double elastics on one side. My teeth and jaws were under incredible tension and tylenol wouldn’t even touch it. But like I said, it was temporary and the entire process was definitely worth it.

You are a big fat liar. The pain will go away, this time. Then in a month, he’ll go back, they’ll tighten them, and his whole mouth will hurt for another week.

God, the memories. I got mine off in high school and I can still run my tongue around the inside of my mouth and feel my orthodontic history written in scar tissue.

I used to have a big bowl of Jello to eat for dinner the days after getting my braces tightened. I found Chloraseptic sprayed on my gums was very helpful in managing the pain.

Ibuprofen is possibly the best OTC relief for tooth/gum pain. In some cases, I think it’s better than Lortab.

Generally, unless you’re having major issues with your teeth movement, you’ll see an orthodontist every 4-8 weeks (I always found I saw them about 5-6 weeks apart).

The pain can be intense when braces are first put on, or if wires are put on after a long time having them off, but ibuprofen SHOULD help with most of it. I have to second the cold-food thing…it really helped a lot.

The adjustments for the most part should be minor, so there won’t be more than 4-12 hours of pain. And the pain should not be intense.

I know that everyone experiences pain differently, but if your friend keeps hurting a lot and for a long time, they may want to discuss this with their orthodontist, and if the answer doesn’t satisfy, their dentist. Some orthodontists like to get teeth to move as quickly as possible and that can be detrimental not only in terms of pain, but also in terms of healthy bone to anchor the tooth.

I’ve had braces since I was 12, and am now 25, just for the record.

Believe it or not, rinsing with warm or hot salt water really helped me. And I wore old-fashioned bands, not these wimpy stick-on things! And head gear!

And get off my lawn!


My mother and I once sifted through an entire fish fry’s worth of garbage looking for a Frankel. Do you know how many friends you have in elementary school if you have a Frankel which you have to take out to eat?

You big sissy :smiley:

I found that the adjustments didn’t hurt as bad as Day 1. There was pain for a day, but nothing unbearable.

The best part is that when you go on vacation, something always breaks and then you have to enjoy Disney with a wire sticking out of your nose or something.

I’ll bet Orajel would help…numbs ya right up, it does!

ibuprofen, which is an NSAID (Non-Specific Anti-Inflamatory Drug) helped me a lot. It’s always worse a couple days after an adjustment, but the first getting them on was like hell (had 'em back in junior high). I always found ice cream to be great, and I ate a lot of soup back then

Mine either. Except the couple of times when the dentist tightened them, and forgot to fold over the wire at the back so it just poked into the back of my mouth. That hurt.

A month? Boy, you were lucky! Mine came off late in high school (top and bottom) after eight years! I was in the dentist office once every two weeks for a tighten, grease and oil change. The pain and soreness were constant for eight years. Needless to say my eating habits were abysmal because I couldn’t chew anything tougher than mashed potatoes, fresh bread or ice cream.

It wasn’t until after high school that I could eat anything substantial and my weight would finally catch up with my body frame.

I had braces in my 20’s and I found that taking a hot shower and directing the spray in my mouth took a lot of pain away.

I had my upper palate expanded and everything. Hot shower was the only thing that would make my head stop hurting.