Do Braces Hurt? What To Expect

Are you considering getting braces but worried about the age-old question: “Do braces hurt?” It’s a common concern for individuals of all ages who are embarking on the journey to a straighter, healthier smile. At Clement Orthodontics, we understand that the idea of braces may come with some apprehension, especially if it’s your first time. But fear not! In this guide, we’ll take you through what to expect when you get braces, from the initial placement to the adjustments and beyond. Our goal is to provide you with a clear understanding of the process, potential discomfort, and the many benefits that await you on the path to a more confident smile. So, let’s dive in and address the question on your mind: Do braces hurt, and what can you expect during your orthodontic journey?

The Initial Placement

The journey to a beautifully aligned smile typically begins with the initial placement of braces. This step is where many people have concerns about discomfort, so it’s natural to wonder, “Do braces hurt when they are first put on?”

Here’s what you can expect during the initial placement:

Cleaning and Preparing Your Teeth

Before your braces are attached, your orthodontist will clean and dry your teeth thoroughly. This ensures that the brackets adhere properly to your teeth.

Bracket Placement

Your orthodontist will attach small brackets to each of your teeth using a dental adhesive. These brackets serve as anchors for the wires that will guide your teeth into their desired positions.

Wire Attachment

Once the brackets are in place, a wire is threaded through them. This wire is what applies gentle pressure to your teeth, gradually moving them into alignment.

Elastic Bands

Depending on your specific treatment plan, your orthodontist may also attach elastic bands to the brackets. These bands can be adjusted to correct issues like overbites or underbites.

Does It Hurt?

During the initial placement, you may feel some pressure and discomfort, but the process is typically not painful. Your orthodontist will take great care to minimize any discomfort during this stage. It’s essential to communicate with your orthodontic team if you experience any significant discomfort.

After Placement Care

After your braces are placed, you might experience some tenderness or soreness in your mouth for a few days. This is entirely normal as your teeth and oral tissues adjust to the new appliances. It’s advisable to stick to a soft diet during this time and avoid hard or sticky foods that could increase discomfort.

Remember, the discomfort experienced during the initial placement is temporary and is often milder than many people anticipate. As your treatment progresses, you’ll become more accustomed to the feeling of braces, and any discomfort will lessen. In our next section, we’ll explore what to expect during routine adjustments.

Adjustments and Tightening

Once your braces are in place, you’ll need to visit your orthodontist regularly for adjustments and tightening. These appointments are a crucial part of your orthodontic journey and play a significant role in achieving that perfectly aligned smile. But do braces hurt during these adjustments?

Here’s what happens during these routine appointments:


At each visit, your orthodontist will assess the progress of your treatment. They will examine your teeth, check how well they are moving, and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.


If needed, your orthodontist may tighten the wires and replace elastic bands during the appointment. Tightening is essential for maintaining a consistent and controlled force on your teeth, which is what helps them move into the desired positions.


Your orthodontist will discuss your treatment progress with you, answering any questions you may have and addressing any concerns.

Does It Hurt?

During adjustments and tightening appointments, you might experience some pressure and mild discomfort. This is entirely normal and is a sign that your braces are working as intended. The sensation is often likened to the feeling of pressure on your teeth, and it typically lasts for a day or two after the appointment.

Many patients find relief from this discomfort by using over-the-counter pain relievers or a cold compress. It’s crucial to follow your orthodontist’s instructions for managing this discomfort and to communicate openly with them if you find it particularly bothersome.

It’s important to note that the level of discomfort experienced during adjustments varies from person to person. Some individuals report minimal discomfort, while others may find it slightly more pronounced. Rest assured, any discomfort you experience is temporary and a normal part of the orthodontic process.

Soreness and Discomfort

It’s common to experience some soreness and discomfort after getting braces and during the course of your treatment. This discomfort is typically most noticeable in the first few days after the initial placement of braces and following adjustment appointments. Here’s what to expect and how to manage it:

Initial Placement

When you first get braces, your teeth are not accustomed to the pressure and presence of the brackets and wires. This can lead to soreness in your mouth, particularly on the inner cheeks and lips, as they rub against the braces. Over-the-counter pain relievers, orthodontic wax to smooth out any rough edges, and using a soft-bristle toothbrush can help alleviate this initial discomfort.

Adjustment Soreness

After adjustment appointments, you might experience some soreness in your teeth. This is because your orthodontist has made changes to your braces, which can increase the pressure on your teeth. The discomfort typically peaks within 24 to 48 hours and then gradually subsides. During this time, it’s advisable to stick to soft foods and avoid hard or crunchy items that could further irritate your mouth.

Brace Irritations

Occasionally, braces can cause minor irritations or sores on the inside of your cheeks and lips. Orthodontic wax can be applied to any brackets or wires that are causing these irritations to provide relief.

Mouth Rinse

Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater can help reduce inflammation and soothe any irritation caused by the braces. Swish the solution gently in your mouth for about 30 seconds and then spit it out.

Orthodontic Wax

Orthodontic wax is a valuable tool for preventing and addressing brace-related discomfort. If a bracket or wire is causing irritation, simply apply a small amount of wax to the area to create a barrier between the braces and the sensitive tissues in your mouth.

Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage any discomfort associated with braces. Always follow the recommended dosage instructions on the packaging.

Remember, the discomfort associated with braces is temporary and is a sign that your orthodontic treatment is progressing. It’s essential to maintain good oral hygiene practices and follow your orthodontist’s instructions to ensure the best results.

Eating with Braces

Dietary adjustments are often necessary when you have braces to ensure your orthodontic treatment progresses smoothly and comfortably. Here’s what you should know about eating with braces:

Soft Foods

During the initial days after getting braces and following adjustments, your teeth may be sensitive. It’s a good idea to stick to soft foods that are easy to chew and won’t exert too much pressure on your braces. Examples include mashed potatoes, yogurt, oatmeal, and smoothies.

Avoid Hard and Sticky Foods

Hard foods like nuts, popcorn, and ice can damage your braces and wires. Sticky foods like caramel and chewing gum can get stuck in your braces, making them challenging to clean. Avoid these types of foods to prevent complications.

Cut Foods into Smaller Pieces

To make eating more comfortable, cut fruits and vegetables into smaller, bite-sized pieces. This reduces the stress on your braces and minimizes the risk of damaging them.

Orthodontic-Friendly Snacks

Consider snacks that are less likely to interfere with your braces. Soft cheese, pudding, applesauce, and sliced fruits are excellent choices.

Good Chewing Habits

When you do consume harder foods, practice good chewing habits. Use your back teeth and avoid biting directly into hard objects. This can help prevent bracket or wire damage.


Staying hydrated is essential for overall health and can help maintain the health of your oral tissues. Drinking water is usually safe with braces. However, if you enjoy carbonated beverages, it’s best to choose sugar-free options and use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.

Oral Hygiene

Maintain meticulous oral hygiene while you have braces. Food particles can get trapped in the brackets and wires, increasing the risk of plaque buildup and tooth decay. Brushing after every meal and flossing with the help of floss threaders or a water flosser is crucial.

Regular Orthodontic Checkups

Attend your scheduled orthodontic checkups. Your orthodontist will make necessary adjustments to your braces and can address any concerns or issues related to your treatment or dietary choices.

Remember that the temporary dietary adjustments you make while wearing braces are an essential part of achieving a beautiful, healthy smile. Your orthodontist will provide guidance on what foods to avoid and offer tips on maintaining proper oral hygiene. Once your treatment is complete, you’ll be able to enjoy all your favorite foods again with a straight and confident smile.

Orthodontic Wax

Orthodontic wax is a small but mighty tool that can provide significant relief during your braces journey. Here’s everything you need to know about it:

What Is Orthodontic Wax?

Orthodontic wax is a soft and pliable material that’s designed to alleviate the discomfort and irritation caused by braces. It’s typically made of medical-grade, non-toxic wax, making it safe for oral use.

How Does It Work?

When a part of your braces, such as a bracket or wire, starts to rub against the inside of your mouth, it can create sore spots and ulcers. This is where orthodontic wax comes to the rescue. Simply pinch off a small piece of wax, roll it into a ball, and then flatten it over the troublesome area. The wax creates a smooth surface that prevents further irritation.

When to Use Orthodontic Wax

Orthodontic wax is handy in several situations:

Bracket Irritation

If a bracket feels rough or causes discomfort, you can apply wax to smooth the edges.

Wire Irritation

If a wire is poking the inside of your cheek or lips, a small piece of wax can act as a cushion.

Broken Braces

If a bracket or wire breaks and you can’t get immediate professional help, wax can temporarily hold things in place and prevent injury.

How to Apply It

Applying orthodontic wax is simple. Ensure that the area you’re applying it to is clean and dry. Then, take a small piece of wax, roll it into a ball, and gently press it onto the problematic part of your braces.

Hygiene Concerns

While orthodontic wax is safe for oral use, it’s essential to keep your braces and mouth clean. Make sure to remove the wax before eating or brushing your teeth. Wax can trap food particles and bacteria, so regular oral hygiene is crucial.


You can find orthodontic wax at most drugstores or receive it from your orthodontist. It often comes in small, convenient containers that you can carry with you.

Temporary Relief

Remember that orthodontic wax provides temporary relief. If you experience persistent discomfort, it’s best to contact your orthodontist for a more permanent solution.

Orthodontic wax is a lifesaver for many people with braces, offering quick and effective relief from the occasional discomfort that can come with orthodontic treatment. Keep some on hand, and you’ll be better prepared to handle any minor issues that may arise during your braces journey.

Emergencies and What to Do

While orthodontic treatment typically goes smoothly, there are instances when unexpected issues arise. Knowing how to handle these situations can help you stay calm and minimize any potential problems. Here’s a guide to common orthodontic emergencies and what to do:

Loose or Broken Brackets

It’s not uncommon for a bracket to become loose or break, especially if you’ve been eating hard or sticky foods. If this happens:

Don’t Panic

It’s a common issue, and it can usually be fixed.

Contact Your Orthodontist

Reach out to your orthodontist to explain the situation. They will provide guidance on whether you need an immediate appointment or if it can wait until your next scheduled visit.

Poking Wires

Sometimes, a wire may become loose or poke the inside of your cheeks or lips. If you experience this:

Use Wax

Apply orthodontic wax to the poking wire to create a smooth surface.

Contact Your Orthodontist

Inform your orthodontist about the issue. They may advise you to visit the office for a wire adjustment.

Lost Spacers or Bands

If you lose a spacer or band between appointments:

Don’t Delay

Contact your orthodontist as soon as possible. They may need to replace the lost appliance.

Keep the Lost Part

If a spacer or band comes off, try to keep it in a safe place to bring with you to your orthodontic appointment.

Mouth Sores or Irritation

While wearing braces, you might develop sores or irritation from the brackets or wires rubbing against your cheeks, lips, or tongue. For relief:

Use Wax

Apply orthodontic wax to the rough or sharp part of the braces causing the irritation.

Rinse with Saltwater

Swishing with warm saltwater can help soothe mouth sores.

Trauma or Injury

If you experience significant trauma or injury to your mouth or face, such as a fall or accident:

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Go to the nearest emergency room or dentist for evaluation. Your orthodontic treatment can be addressed afterward.

Swallowed or Inhaled Appliance

In rare cases, a part of your appliance may come loose and be accidentally swallowed or inhaled. If this occurs:

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Go to the nearest emergency room. Provide as much information as possible about what was swallowed or inhaled.

Remember, in any orthodontic emergency, it’s crucial not to attempt to fix the issue yourself if you’re unsure how to do so. Always contact your orthodontist for guidance. They have the expertise and tools to address these situations safely and effectively.

Adjusting to Braces

Starting orthodontic treatment with braces can be a significant adjustment, but with time, it becomes a routine part of your daily life. Here’s what you can expect during the initial adjustment phase and some tips for making the process smoother:

Discomfort and Soreness

It’s common to experience some discomfort and soreness in the first few days after getting braces. Your mouth, teeth, and gums need time to adapt to the new appliances. Here’s how to manage it:

Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

You can take over-the-counter pain relievers as recommended by your orthodontist or pharmacist to ease discomfort.

Orthodontic Wax

Apply orthodontic wax to any brackets or wires that are causing irritation or rubbing against your cheeks and lips.

Dietary Adjustments

With braces, you’ll need to make some changes to your diet to protect your appliances and maintain good oral hygiene:

Avoid Sticky and Hard Foods

Foods like gum, caramel, and hard candies can damage your braces. It’s best to steer clear of them.

Cut Food into Smaller Pieces

If you’re eating fruits or vegetables, cut them into smaller, bite-sized pieces to reduce the risk of damaging your braces.

Soft Diet

Opt for softer foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, and pasta during the initial days of adjustment.

Oral Hygiene

Keeping your teeth and braces clean is vital to prevent dental issues. Follow these oral hygiene practices:

Regular Brushing

Brush your teeth and braces after each meal using a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Pay extra attention to the areas around brackets and wires.


Use a floss threader or a water flosser to clean between your teeth and under the wires.

Rinse with Mouthwash

Rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce bacteria and maintain fresh breath.

Orthodontic Appointments

You’ll have regular orthodontic appointments to adjust your braces and monitor your progress. Keep these appointments to ensure your treatment stays on track.

Speech Adjustments

Some people may notice minor speech changes initially, such as a slight lisp. Don’t worry; your tongue and mouth muscles will adapt, and your speech will return to normal.

Sports and Activities

If you play sports or musical instruments, discuss this with your orthodontist. They can provide solutions like mouthguards or special protective gear.

Stay Positive

Adjusting to braces can take time, so it’s important to stay positive and patient throughout the process. Remember that the end result – a beautiful, healthy smile – is worth it.

As you continue with your orthodontic journey, you’ll find that adapting to braces becomes second nature. The discomfort diminishes, and you’ll soon be well on your way to achieving the smile you’ve always wanted.

The Progress and Benefits

As time passes and your braces become a familiar part of your life, you’ll start noticing the progress and reaping the benefits of orthodontic treatment. Here’s what you can look forward to:

Improved Alignment

The primary goal of braces is to align your teeth correctly. Over the course of treatment, you’ll see your teeth gradually moving into their ideal positions. This not only enhances your smile but also improves your overall oral health.

Enhanced Aesthetics

Braces work wonders in correcting cosmetic concerns such as crooked teeth, gaps, and overbites. You’ll gain the confidence of a beautiful, straight smile.

Better Oral Health

Straighter teeth are easier to clean. As your teeth align, it becomes less challenging to brush and floss effectively, reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Improved Chewing and Speaking

Orthodontic treatment can enhance your ability to chew food comfortably and articulate words clearly, contributing to better overall oral function.

Boosted Confidence

A well-aligned smile can significantly boost your self-esteem. Feeling good about your appearance can positively impact your personal and professional life.

Long-Term Health Benefits

Properly aligned teeth not only look good but also promote better oral health. This can help prevent issues like TMJ disorders, excessive wear on teeth, and speech difficulties.

Customized Treatment

Orthodontic treatment is highly customizable to your unique needs. Your orthodontist tailors the treatment plan to achieve the best results for you, which ensures optimal effectiveness.

Lifelong Smile

The benefits of braces extend well beyond the treatment period. Once your braces are removed and you follow a good oral hygiene routine, you can enjoy your beautiful smile for life.

Orthodontic Adjustments

During your treatment, you’ll have regular appointments with your orthodontist to make adjustments to your braces. These appointments are essential for ensuring your teeth move correctly and that your treatment stays on track.

Relieved Discomfort

As your teeth align and your bite improves, you’ll experience fewer discomforts like jaw pain or headaches that might have been caused by misaligned teeth or bite issues.

Remember that the duration of orthodontic treatment varies from person to person, depending on the complexity of the case. It’s essential to be patient and diligent in following your orthodontist’s recommendations for care and maintenance.


In the world of orthodontics, braces are more than just a treatment; they’re a path to a healthier, more confident you. While the process might seem daunting at first, it’s essential to remember that it’s a journey filled with incredible benefits.

Throughout this article, we’ve explored the various aspects of braces, from the initial placement to managing adjustments, dealing with discomfort, and reaping the rewards of a beautifully aligned smile.

At Clement Orthodontics, we understand that each patient is unique, and your orthodontic journey will be tailored to your specific needs. We’re committed to providing you with the highest quality care and guiding you through every step of the process.

Braces are more than just a cosmetic solution; they can transform your oral health, boost your self-confidence, and improve your overall well-being. The discomfort you might experience at the beginning is a small price to pay for the long-term benefits.

So, if you’re considering braces or are already on your orthodontic journey, remember that the temporary challenges are paving the way for a lifetime of healthier teeth and a radiant smile. Embrace the process, follow your orthodontist’s guidance, and look forward to the incredible transformation ahead.

If you have any questions or are ready to start your braces journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to Clement Orthodontics. We’re here to support you every step of the way.

Here’s to a future filled with a confident smile and optimal oral health. Keep smiling bright!