Do Braces Hurt?

When the time comes to get your braces put on, and the big day is getting closer, many kids (and adults!) get nervous about what it will feel like. Concerns that I hear often at Meadows Orthodontics include:

Will it hurt getting braces put on? Once they are on, what will it feel like? Will it hurt when I come in for adjustments? And, what is it like to get braces removed?  I will take you through each of these questions, and I think that most children and adults will be relieved… braces have come a long way since I was a teen (the 80’s, yes I am old!).

First of all, there are NO SHOTS involved with getting braces! Things just never hurt to the point that an injection of anesthetic is needed. If there ever is an abnormally sensitive area, I have a very strong topical anesthetics jelly to rub on your gums.

Will it hurt getting braces put on?  Believe it or not, placing the braces put on (bonded) is one of the more gentle parts of your treatment. It literally feels like gently touching the back of your hand with your finger. Now, there are other sensations going on at the same time: Using suction “Mr. Thirsty” to keep your teeth dry can be a bit noisy, and we have to rinse your teeth with water to help prepare them for the braces. We also use a bright blue light that makes the braces stick to your teeth. Sometimes we fit bands around back teeth, and this often feels tight, like there is food caught in between your teeth.

Other than these sensations, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, what used to be considered the most uncomfortable or annoying part of getting braces – having goopy impressions taken – has been largely eliminated. Digital impressions using our iTero scanner have taken the place of traditional impressions, eliminating that gooey, hard to breath sensation.

©Blue Moon Studio, Inc.Once braces are on, what will it feel like?  This is where I do not mislead my patients. On average, there will be about four days of soreness. I tell patients that the teeth will feel like your muscles feel the day after exercising hard. Most people describe it as a dull soreness, not a sharp pain. Then after several days, things go back to normal! Usually, there is also several days where the cheeks and lips get used to the feeling of having braces on the teeth. Ninety nine percent of the time, getting used to braces is so much better than what they are imagining or have heard about. The new materials and technologies that we use have come a long way to greatly improve comfort!

Will it hurt when I come in for adjustments?  A common misconception is that an orthodontist “tightens” braces, where patients usually imagine us cranking or twisting at the back of the wires. Things often do feel “tighter” after your adjustment visits, but this is usually from getting a new, often larger, wire placed in your braces. A tight feeling can come from me placed new curves or small bends in the wire to move teeth, or from starting new elastics (or “rubber bands”) for the first time. The good news is that this new sensation goes away quickly, and is usually only a fraction of what was felt the first couple days after your braces were first placed.

What is it like to get braces removed?  Getting your braces taken off is usually a very quick experience- usually one minute or less! We use a special tool that squeezes the braces one by one, and you may hear a little “pop” as they release from your teeth. After the braces are off, it usually takes longer to completely remove the adhesive that may still be attached to your teeth. We use a hand piece that sounds like a drill, but is actually a gentle polisher that makes the teeth nice and shiny. This polishing is usually not painful at all (most patients think it tickles!), it may just be the sound that causes some nervousness.

What do I do if I get a sore spot during braces? All mouths are shaped different, and I use different treatments for different people. Some people go through their entire treatment without getting sore areas, while others develop areas that bother them a bit.  Please read the next Blog that I post, in which I will give tips on addressing this issue.


Written by Dan Rejman, D.D.S., M.S. Dr. Dan is a Board Certified Orthodontic Specialist, who is the owner of Meadows Orthodontics in Castle Rock, Colorado.