As teeth begin to move, it is not uncommon for patients to experience a little soreness.
The degree of soreness varies greatly from patient to patient. Some people tolerate discomfort better than others. Be assured that the discomfort is always temporary and will go away usually within 24 to 48 hours. Here are some hints to help you through these first few hours.
What causes orthodontic soreness?
When teeth begin to move, the tissues around them can become inflamed. The inflammation causes swelling in the "periodontal ligament" (the fibers that hold teeth firmly in the jaws), and in the gums. The swelling compresses the nerve fibers causing the soreness. Anything that will reduce inflammation or swelling will help to alleviate soreness.
What to do with Orthodontic Soreness:
Rinse frequently with warm salt water. Put several teaspoons of salt in half a cup of warm (not hot!) water. Hold the water in your mouth for 60 seconds while swishing it around the teeth and gums. Don't gargle with it.
How it works: The warm salty water pulls fluids from the gum tissues by osmosis. This reduces the pressure on the nerves, alleviating the discomfort.
Chew on some celery stalks or dried fruits (dried apricots or prunes) Or try apple wedges, Triscits, or hard cheeses. (We encourage the low-fat variety)
How it works: Chewing compresses the periodontal ligament (the fibers that hold the teeth to the gums.) This pumps fluid out, reducing the pressure that can cause soreness.
Eat some fresh cherries.
How it works: Cherries contain natural anti-inflammatory compounds that will reduce the swelling and alleviate pain. So do some other berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Orthodontic soreness always goes away after a short period of time, usually only two or three days.
Orthodontic soreness is not an indication that anything is going wrong, or that there is too much force.
Your patience will be rewarded with a beautiful smile!
Be Careful About What You Eat!
Braces are truly a marvelous technological achievement! Through modern day orthodontics, an intricate "force system" is set up in the patient's mouth. Eating the wrong foods can destroy that force system, prolong treatment time, and compromise results. Being careful about what you eat will help insure a pleasant treatment and a beautiful smile when treatment is complete.
Hard foods, gooey foods and sticky foods can destroy the "force system" in two ways.
First, they can loosen the brackets or bands. This usually is apparent to the patient, and can sometimes be quite annoying. Loose brackets and bands can cause wires to shift, making them protrude into the cheeks or gums.
Second, these foods can distort the wires. The patient may not realize it when this happens, but the teeth will know! Distorted wires can stop teeth from moving properly, or even cause teeth to move in the wrong direction.
So, don't goof up the works!
Generally, we suggest limited use of all candies-- not necessarily because they destroy braces, but because they can cause cavities and have other detrimental effects on your health and well-being. The same may be said for other highly sugared products, such as soda, cake and cookies.
Remember-- you can eat well and truly enjoy your orthodontic experience.
Just be careful!
Keeping Your Braces Clean
Choose your Toothbrush
Soft bristles are a must. Your toothbrush should be easy to handle, and its head should be small enough to fit into your mouth easily. The modern trend in toothbrushes is toward smaller heads that can be used more precisely around gumlines and between teeth.
If the bristles on your toothbrush no longer stick up straight but rather flare to the side, it's time for a new one.
Does technique really matter? Yes it does.
Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Hold the toothbrush head at a 45-degree angle toward your gums. The bristles should be gently flexed so they surround the gum tissues and the portion of the tooth closest to the gumline. Use either a circular or jiggling motion. After several seconds cleaning this area, slide the toothbrush away from the gum, over the tooth's surface toward the open mouth area. This will clean the rest of the tooth's side surface and brush the loosened bacteria away from and off of the tooth. This technique also stimulates the gum. Clean two or three teeth at a time, then move to the next area..
Brush all outside surfaces first, both upper and lower, and then all inside surfaces next, upper and lower. Don't skip any teeth as you go around. Once you've done all the sides, you can gently use that old back-and-forth motion to clean the top chewing surfaces of your teeth.
When you're finished, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water and spit out the toothpaste.
The whole process should take about two minutes. When you think about it, two minutes twice a day is a small investment in terms of all the prevention it will give you. Cavities and gum disease are no fun.
Use a Fluoride Mouth Rinse
Now that you’ve thoroughly cleaned your teeth, its time to protect them against cavities.
Fluoride mouth rinses strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay for both adults and children. They deliver tooth strengthening fluoride to your tooth surfaces to help prevent cavities, and protect the roots of teeth as gums begin to recede.
An anticavity fluoride rinse can:
- Reduce root cavities in adults by up to 71% more than brushing with a fluoride toothpaste alone
- Reduce cavities in children up to 40% more than brushing with a fluoride toothpaste alone
- Reverse “white spots” on teeth caused by poor oral hygiene
To use an anticavity rinse:
- Use daily after brushing your teeth with a toothpaste
- Vigorously swish rinse between your teeth for 1 minute and then spit out
- Do not swallow the rinse
- Do not eat or drink for 30 minutes after rinsing
- Supervise children as necessary