Anyone who’s had braces can tell you the initial appointment to have your braces put on is just the beginning. Monthly appointments for adjustments and tightening can be a real pain in the, well, mouth. Some changes cause less discomfort, especially as treatment nears the end, but some can make your teeth so sore that it hurts to eat mashed potatoes (true story). While it’s all worth it in the end, it can be tough to keep your eye on the prize month after month.
Here are five ways to combat discomfort and get you back to your regular routine:
Take a pain reliever/anti-inflammatory before your visit – To help prevent discomfort, get proactive and try taking the recommended dose of whichever over-the-counter pain reliever you prefer (or whichever your orthodontist recommends) before your adjustment appointment. Be sure to follow all doctor recommendations and always follow packaging instructions. Remember that children should NEVER take aspirin because of the risk of Reye’s Syndrome.
Try an oral anesthetic – If you have one or two sensitive spots try using anesthetic gel that is sold in pharmacies and supermarkets. A small amount works wonders and can supply some much-needed relief. For larger areas, try an ice pack wrapped in a towel, so the ice pack is not directly in contact with the skin.
Eat soft food for a few days – While your mouth is recovering, take it easy and don’t expect to chew anything tough like steak for a bit. Soft, nourishing foods can keep you healthy until you can use your full bite again. After an adjustment, you might want to eat ice cream for a week, but foods like tofu, scrambled eggs, chicken or egg salad, cottage cheese, soups with soft or pureed vegetables, oatmeal, hummus, and pasta are all healthy, nutritious options that will help keep your strength up and allow your body to heal faster.
Use orthodontic wax liberally – Ortho wax can be a post-adjustment lifesaver. Brackets rubbing against the delicate tissue of the cheeks and lips can cause sore spots. When placed over the bracket or against an archwire, it can give your tissue some time to heal while the rest of your mouth adjusts to the new position of the braces.
Rest – Sometimes overlooked in today’s rush to do EVERYTHING, rest is an essential part of our body’s ability to heal. Be sure to take it easy after your visit and let your body do its thing.
The most important thing to remember after your orthodontic adjustment is to be patient. You’re asking your teeth to move in the bone, it’s no small feat. You should allow yourself and your mouth the time it takes to feel better. Keep looking to the future and keep in mind that in no time your braces with be a thing of the past and you’ll be left with a functional bite and a beautiful smile for all the world to see!