Thousands of people in the US could benefit from orthodontic care each year. Orthodontic treatment is more than just a way to produce a more beautiful smile. It also provides a way to prevent long-term complications resulting from misaligned teeth and malocclusion. These conditions can cause uneven or excessive strain on the joints and tissues within your oral cavity. Teeth that are misaligned also provide additional spaces for bacteria, food debris, and biofilms to build up. Orthodontic treatment is a generally painless method of correcting these kinds of concerns.
How We Address Pain From Orthodontic Treatment
When post-treatment pain does occur, it’s typically in the form of mild tenderness, puffiness, and sensitivity. These symptoms result from the gums and other tissues becoming inflamed or swollen when the teeth begin to move. Some mild irritation can occur within the first two weeks as the patient gets comfortable wearing the orthodontic appliance. Traditional braces, in particular, may require some getting used to as the archwires and brackets can irritate the cheek tissue. Dental wax typically can prevent this irritation from occurring. However, in cases where discomfort still occurs, the following options will generally address it:
- NSAID – Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatories are a common sight in many medicine cabinets. They’re useful for addressing discomfort resulting from swollen and inflamed tissues. As one of the underlying causes of orthodontic pain is inflammation, these medicines can be very effective at easing it. NSAIDs are available over the counter under the name Ibuprofen and Naproxen Sodium.
- Analgesics – This medication helps relieve the discomfort by interfering with the body’s ability to experience pain. This is achieved by blocking the receptors communicating pain to the brain and body. They’ve proven very effective in addressing discomfort, especially when combined with the aforementioned NSAIDs. Certain over-the-counter medications already provide a mix of these two medications, often boosted with caffeine to further enhance the effect.
- Cold Therapy – Cold has an ameliorating effect on swelling and inflammation. This is achieved by causing the blood vessels in the treated area to narrow or constrict, reducing the amount of fluid getting to the area. By reducing inflammation and swelling, pressure on the tissues is reduced, resulting in reduced pain. Cold can be applied using an ice pack or by eating cold foods. However, it is recommended not to use cold therapy for periods of greater than 15 minutes at a time to avoid harming the skin.
Using these three approaches, most symptoms that cause discomfort in post-orthodontic care can be addressed. However, you must report any ongoing discomfort to your dentist. Pain following orthodontic care can indicate something going awry with your treatment. Be sure to get checked if it persists.
Ask Your Dentist For More Tips For Post-Orthodontic Pain
Other factors can influence the discomfort you feel following your orthodontic care. Certain foods, particularly chewy or crunchy foods, can cause additional irritation to already sensitive tissues. Your dentist will help you identify the causes of your discomfort and suggest methods of reducing how impacted you are by it.