If you ever wore braces, you know it’s not fun. Going through orthodontic treatment can cause discomfort because the brackets and wires put pressure on the teeth and gums, causing your whole mouth to be in pain. This pressure is normal and necessary to move the teeth into the desired position, but it can cause soreness and irritation to the person wearing them. Additionally, the brackets and wires can rub against the inside of the mouth, causing irritation and discomfort.

Society is very used to the phrase “beauty is pain,” and we use it often when we feel too lazy to work out or in cases where aesthetic beauty is involved. And yes, we agree that the use of braces brings a boost and attractiveness to one’s confidence and our connections, but their use goes beyond that, affecting future tooth decay and other health problems that could appear in the long run. Yet we do not believe you need to suffer to achieve the perfect smile, which is why we put together these tips on how to make braces pain less of an issue in your or your child’s day to day.

The First Week With Braces

As in every new thing we try in our lives, the first few days can be the most difficult. The first week after leaving your orthodontist’s office can be quite painful given the fact that your teeth, gums, and your overall mouth bone structure and nerves are receiving tension for the first time.

To let your body adjust without too much discomfort, the foods you should be ingesting during this week are soups and creams, bananas, yogurt (normal, flavored, Greek, you choose your favorite), oatmeal, scrambled eggs, pasta with soft cheeses, soft (preferably baked) vegetables, mash potatoes/sweet potatoes, fish or seafood in general.

Braces-Friendly Foods

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has created and shared the recommended foods and nutrients a patient needs while on orthodontic treatment, as well as the no-nos. It is important to maintain a healthy diet when wearing braces. Eating soft foods is recommended, just as drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary drinks can help keep your teeth and braces healthy. We leave you the list below.

  • Dairy: Yogurt, Milk, Cottage Cheese.
  • Bread and Grains: Oatmeal, Pancakes, waffles, Muffins (without nuts), Pasta, Cooked rice.
  • Meats and Proteins: Shredded Chicken, Meatloaf, Meatballs, Lunchmeat, Fish, and Eggs.
  • Fruits & Vegetables: Bananas, Applesauce, Watermelon, Grapes, Mashed potatoes, cooked beans, Steamed vegetables.
  • Sweets: Pudding, Soft cookies, soft chocolates (no nuts or caramel), Jell-O, Ice cream, Milkshakes, Cake/cupcakes (soft bread, no nuts).

We know that having to change your diet can be a discomfort on its own, but you can view it as an opportunity to try new recipes and flavors that you didn’t before. You can try all the ways of making pancakes with oatmeal and different fruits, doing vegan ice cream using frozen bananas and avocado, getting fancy trying veggie creams to make your lunchtime fun, and exploring at the same time. The more you are willing to play with it, the more chances you have to involve your family in meal prep and cooking time, which can become family memories AND help your kids prepare for adulthood.

If you are still not sure of what to make, we invite you to check out our article with snack ideas for braces.

Foods to Avoid Completely if You Have Braces

The not-so-fun part of wearing brackets is knowing there is a variety of foods that are not allowed. Avoiding hard and chewy foods is recommended by oral health specialists. Some of these are:

  • Hard candy
  • Sticky candy such as jellybeans
  • Licorice
  • Caramel
  • Taffy
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Hard pretzels or chips
  • Crunchy vegetables or fruits
  • Pizza crust
  • Bagels or hard rolls
  • Ice

There is a reason why these foods are on the no list. If you are going through an orthopedic treatment and decide to go for it anyway, they could be the reason why your wires or braces bands come loose. If that happens, we recommend calling your orthodontist immediately to get an appointment as soon as possible. And until you can see your specialist and get the braces in perfect shape, we advise you not to pull or bend a broken wire or bracket. If you do it, you could cause more damage to the piece or even hurt yourself.

If necessary, use a piece of wet cotton or orthodontic wax over the sharp edge on your way to your orthodontist. Remember that if you damage your braces, your treatment time could be extended.

What is the Discomfort is Too Much?

When we feel pain, it’s quite easy to take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen to help reduce the pain, it makes sense to take something for pain that also is anti-inflammatory, but certain studies have shown how anti-inflammatory medications cause slow tooth movement which would be contra productive during an orthodontist treatment.

Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol, is recommended, given its ability to decrease pain without being anti-inflammatory. You can also use wax to cover any sharp edges of the braces that may be causing discomfort.

Natural Remedies

Some natural remedies that can help reduce the pain associated with braces are:

  • Applying a cold compress or an ice pack to the area can help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • You can also try using a warm saltwater rinse to help reduce swelling and discomfort. You can use it five or six times a day for 30 seconds each time.
  • Taking a warm bath or using a heating pad can help relax the muscles and reduce pain.
  • Ice water can do the trick; sipping on a glass of cold water can help numb the mouth.
  • Gum massage with your fingers or even using an ice cube. Just do circular motions in the gums to help your muscles relax.

And remember that it can cause some discomfort, but the pain should not be too severe. Over time, you may get used to the feeling of having braces, and the discomfort should lessen. Just be patient.