If you’re wearing braces as part of your orthodontic treatment, you may have experienced some discomfort or irritation in your mouth. One common issue that some braces wearers experience is the development of ulcers on the inside of their cheeks or on their gums. These sores can be painful and may take several days or even weeks to heal. In this blog post, we’ll explore the causes of braces-related ulcers and provide tips on how to manage and prevent them. Whether you’re currently dealing with braces-related ulcers or are simply looking to avoid them in the future, this post will provide valuable information and guidance. So, read on to learn more about braces-related ulcers and how to keep your mouth comfortable during your orthodontic treatment.
What Causes Mouth Ulcers to Form
When you first begin to wear metal in your mouth, you must adjust to the brackets rubbing against your cheeks and lips. It normally takes several weeks to adjust to your new brackets and bands. Over time, the pain caused by the brackets rubbing inside your mouth will decrease. However, when the metal rubs your cheeks and lips, this rubbing causes tissues in your mouth to become tender. When this happens, sores form. These sores make it difficult and even painful to speak and eat normally. Though most of these sores disappear within a week or so, sometimes the sores are longer-lasting and too annoying and painful to cope with. Everyone’s pain threshold is different, and some people cannot tolerate sores.
How to Know You Have a Mouth Ulcer
Mouth ulcers are sore bumps inside your mouth. They’re also called canker sores. If you think you’re suffering from a mouth ulcer or canker sore, check for these symptoms:
- The sore spot forms a bump or blister that is oval or round in shape.
- The sore is red around the outside with a yellow, gray or whitish center.
- The sore is painful.
Most mouth ulcers fade after about a week. However, in extreme cases, the sore will persist. Contact your orthodontist or your family physician if any of the following happens:
- You have uncontrollable pain that can’t be relieved at home.
- Your sores are uncharacteristically large (much larger than a pimple).
- You have sores that have lasted longer than two weeks.
- You develop a high fever.
- You have extreme pain when drinking, eating or speaking.
- You have new sores that sprout up before old ones have healed.
Treatment Options for Mouth Ulcers
There are several things you can do to treat your mouth ulcers at home. For instance, you could gargle your mouth with warm, salty water to alleviate some of the soreness from the ulcers. You should also eat soft foods since soft things will not generally irritate your sores as much as harder foods. You can also buy over-the-counter medications to treat mouth ulcers. These medicines often come in the form of creams or gels that are rubbed onto the sore spots. Orthodontists will often advise on which over-the-counter medicines work best.
In addition to the above, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever for one to two days. If during those two days you develop additional sore spots, you could also use a piece of clear wax in your mouth. Place the wax over the part of your brace that is causing the sore spot. This wax acts as a barrier between the metal and your mouth’s interior and helps prevent some of the damage caused by rubbing the metal against the insides of your mouth. The wax is probably available to you at your orthodontist’s office. Other products to treat mouth ulcers include a protective plastic worn over the brackets to prevent new sores from forming. Call your orthodontist’s office for recommendations, and follow all instructions regarding the use of any waxes or plastic covers.
Special canker sore cream can also be used to treat mouth ulcers. These creams can often be purchased over-the-counter at your local drugstore. However, your orthodontist’s office might have this cream on hand for patients. Contact them for advice on the proper brand to use. Follow all instructions for usage. In most cases, the cream can simply be applied at home. The cream helps to soothe the pain of mouth sores and also provides a barrier between your metal brackets and the insides of your cheeks and lips.
If the above treatment options are ineffective, you should schedule a visit with your orthodontist’s office. The specialist will examine your mouth and recommend a course of action. In rare cases, a patient’s brackets might need to be adjusted in order to alleviate pain.
Other Tips for Coping with Mouth Ulcers
There are several things you can do to maintain a healthy mouth. If you develop mouth ulcers, you should take special care to practice good dental hygiene in order to avoid getting the mouth ulcers infected. For starters, because your brackets provide food particles with more spaces to hide, you must brush and floss carefully to remove these particles. Brush twice daily with a toothpaste containing fluoride.
You’ll still be able to eat most foods, even with your braces and mouth ulcers. However, as a general rule for those with braces, try to avoid chewy foods, such as taffy or other sticky candies. These can get caught in your braces and be difficult to remove. You should also stay away from hard foods, which could damage wires and brackets. If you have mouth ulcers, you should take extra care to avoid problematic foods. For instance, when you have mouth ulcers you should avoid tomatoes and certain fruit juices that are high in acid. These acidic foods not only cause tooth decay but can irritate any mouth ulcers you have already developed.
You should also attend all scheduled meetings at your orthodontist’s office. Report any problem spots, pain or mouth ulcers during these office visits. Your dental professional can provide other tips on keeping your mouth healthy. They can also advise you on the treatment of your mouth ulcers.
Mouth sores are a common problem for dental patients. The sores can be painful and make it difficult to perform regular activities, such as eating and drinking. However, these sores, while painful, do not generally cause any major health concerns. If you have persistent mouth ulcers, try the home remedies mentioned above. If those remedies do not work, contact your orthodontist for help.
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.