Do Orthodontic Braces Hurt?
More adults are choosing to get braces than ever before. This may be due to the cost, which has become more affordable for some people, or their health insurance will cover at least part of the cost. Also, orthodontic work has become more widespread and publicly acceptable, especially with the introduction of special products like Invisalign that make braces appear nearly invisible to the casual observer.
Orthodontic research has led to important advances that make this type of treatment safer and more comfortable than previously. Skilled orthodontists treat thousands of patients each year in ages ranging from adolescence to the senior years. One question comes up frequently when orthodontic treatment is discussed: Are braces painful?
The short answer is no, braces are exceptionally painful. Here’s why.
Orthodontists consult with many patients, young and old, about the advisability of getting braces. Some patients need to correct a few spaces in their mouths, while others need more intensive treatment that will affect both upper and lower teeth, as well as perhaps the upper palate and jaws. Each diagnosis and treatment plan is unique and different. However, one constant remains the same, which is a question that many patients ask: Does it hurt to have braces?
Orthodontic specialists understand patient’s concern over possible discomfort with metal brackets and wires on their teeth for months at a time. Later, small rubber bands may be used to complete the treatment. Simply looking at the traditional fitting with silver wires and metal brackets can sometimes be intimidating. However, much has changed since the early days of fitting people with dental braces, and the process is much smoother and more comfortable than in previous times.
Orthodontists spend considerable time mastering the art of dental alignment with its accompanying issues. They understand a patient’s need for reassurance that getting fitted for braces is not going to be extremely painful and awkward. When a child looks up from the exam chair and asks, “Is it painful to have orthodontic braces?”, the skilled professional can honestly explain what the patient can expect and help to provide comfort and inspire confidence.
Years of specialized study as well as considerable experience have prepared the orthodontist to provide efficient care and treatment that will fit in with the patient’s lifestyle to ensure prompt and effective results. The orthodontist can usually offer several types of treatment options, depending on the patient’s age and lifestyle preferences. For example, preteen and teen patients often prefer the neon shades of brackets to make a fashion statement, often wearing school colors or holiday hues. Middle-age patients, on the other hand, do not want to advertise their orthodontic treatment, so they often request less visible wires that are less noticeable. There are also certain types of braces that can be removed from the mouth for brief periods of time so that the patient can enjoy social functions without feeling self-conscious around other people.
Still, Are Braces Painful – Ever?
An orthodontist will explain the treatment plan involving braces up front before fitting the patient with his or her choice of wires and brackets. The actual fitting procedure may feel strange as the orthodontist carefully works in the patient’s mouth to glue the brackets to affected teeth. Wires are then strung between the brackets with gentle tightening to ensure they are secure enough to do their job of moving teeth into their designated positions. This part of the process may not feel too bad, as it is handled quickly and expertly by the orthodontist.
After leaving the orthodontist’s office, initial discomfort can be felt. The orthodontist may have prescribed some over the counter pain medication to be used at first or as needed. Some patients report mild discomfort, while others feel the tight wires a little more than others. Since the treatment begins to work fairly quickly in many patients, the preliminary feeling of tightness and sensitivity in the teeth may soon dissipate. Within a day or two, most patients have gotten used to the network of metal in their mouth that is helping to move their teeth into correct positions.
Several weeks to a few months after the initial fitting of braces, the patient will return to the orthodontist’s office for a checkup to be sure that all is going well. Of course, patients can contact the office before then if a problem manifests. At this and subsequent office visits, the orthodontist will tighten the wires to continue the task of shifting teeth into proper position to fill gaps, turn in the right direction, or stand upright rather than tilt. These adjustments may cause minor discomfort that is temporary, but now most patients are used to their braces and do not seem to experience significant pain. The question of “Does it hurt to have braces?” is heard less often, because it has already been answered in the due course of treatment thus far.
Of course, now that treatment is well underway and the patient has gotten used to his or her braces, the question of pain fades and is replaced with excitement about what the new smile will look like. Friends and family members who are impressed with the relative comfort of the procedure may begin to assess their own orthodontic needs and consult an orthodontist about their own potential treatment needs.
When treatment is successfully complete and the teeth have been shifted to their new positions, the patient’s wires and brackets will be removed. In their place, many patients will now start wearing retainers provided by the orthodontist’s office as the final step of treatment. This may last for months, years, or a lifetime, depending on the patient’s ongoing needs to keep teeth in a stable position. Retainers are comfortable and can be removed at least briefly during the day so the patient can eat or do other things, while wearing upper or lower retainers, or both, the rest of the time to maintain the work performed by the braces.
Is it Painful to Have Orthodontic Braces?
While the placement of the brackets and wires may be painful initially, the discomfort does not last. A short period of adjustment is well worth the final glorious outcome of having beautiful teeth for life.
Do Orthodontic Braces Hurt?
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Baxter, MN 56425
Dr. Michael McDermott earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in both Chemistry and Biology from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. He followed his undergraduate degrees with a doctorate in dental surgery at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with highest distinction.
Dr. Mike then furthered his dental education by earning a masters and certificate in Orthodontics at the University of St. Louis in Missouri.