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How Long Do Your Teeth Hurt After Getting Braces Tightened?

By December 17, 2021 August 16th, 2023 No Comments
a patient at the dentist's


Having braces is a wonderful, reliable, time-tested method of having the bright, straight smile you have always wanted.

However, the amount of time you have to have your braces isn’t short and they can sometimes be on a patient for years. During this time period, they will need to be tightened multiple times by your orthodontist to ensure that your smile is coming along perfectly and will end up being as straight and pretty as you hoped.

Why do braces need to be tightened, how much braces pain can most patients expect, and for how long do braces hurt?

Why Do Braces Need to be Tightened?

To understand why you need to have your braces adjusted, you must first understand how they function. Essentially, braces cause orthodontic tooth movement through the soft gum tissue of your mouth by placing force on them. Traditional braces work by connecting wires to brackets, which are then bonded to your teeth. The wire tugs on the brackets, which causes your teeth to move.

Getting braces to shift your teeth from where they are now to where you want them to be is virtually never an option. Not only would the agony be excruciating, but you may also damage your teeth.

Instead, orthodontists use a slow, steady staged approach to braces. The wire adjustment initially puts a lot of strain on your teeth. As your teeth shift, however, they exert less and less pressure. They eventually stop applying any pressure at all. This is when your braces need to be adjusted or tightened.

a man visiting the dentist

Why Tightening Hurts

Your teeth are actively shifted to new locations during orthodontic treatment. Blood flow may be affected by changing the tooth alignement. This might cause an inflammatory reaction, resulting in the production of chemicals that cause pain. As a result, your braces hurt when you move them.

Your orthodontist will modify the archwire at each of your orthodontic visits. This is the metal wire that joins your brackets and spans across your grin. Your orthodontist may bend, tighten, or replace the wire depending on your situation. The orthodontic wire then stretches to return to its original place, gently pressing on the teeth in the process. Your grin straightens as a result of this energy.

How Long Do Your Teeth Hurt After Getting Braces Tightened?

Following a braces tightening, it is usual to experience the braces pain or discomfort. The good news is that the discomfort usually goes away on its own within a day or two for most individuals. In fact, some people claim to be pain-free.

After the adjustment, a certain level of sensitivity is much more typical than direct pain. While your teeth or gums may not ache while you’re going about your day, they may when you attempt to eat after tightening your braces, for example. 

a woman with her teeth hurting

As a result, most individuals avoid chewy meals and opt for soft foods that do not involve chewing such as mashed potatoes, soup, yogurt, and smoothies.

How Often is Tightening Needed?

The orthodontist will usually advise most patients when it’s time to tighten your braces. When he or she notices little or no movement of your teeth over time, or if they find any loose components, he or she will advocate having this done.

Because every mouth adjusts differently, there is no one-size-fits-all method for determining how frequently your braces should be adjusted. Orthodontists usually arrange check-up appointments every 4-6 weeks since this seems to be the normal period between changes. However, you may need them more or less often.

What is the Tightening Process Like?

Throughout an adjustment session, your orthodontist will examine your mouth closely to see how you are developing and if there are any issues. Replacement of worn rubber bands, addition of spacers, and pain relief are all part of the adjustment process.

Your orthodontist will attach your wire to your brackets throughout the tightening procedure so that they continue to apply pressure. Also, orthodontists often add rubber bands to braces to apply additional pressure to your teeth. Just like with the wires connecting your braces, the pressure from elastic bands can be painful.

When the procedure is over, it may not seem that anything has changed – similar to a regular trip to a dentist or an orthodontic team. However, mild discomfort and/or sensitivity is completely normal shortly after tightening and lasts for a short time.

Tips to Reduce Discomfort

For youngsters and adults of all ages, mild soreness is usual for several days after tightening braces. However, there are numerous strategies, like over-the-counter medication, to alleviate irritation while maintaining your focus on the long-term aim of a healthy smile.

Use Cold or Ice Packs

After tightening their braces, some individuals develop swelling inner cheeks and/or gums. Apart from over-the-counter pain medication, cold foods or ice packs applied to the cheeks might help numb the region and reduce inflammation. A great alternative to using an ice pack is to eat ice cream or a popsicle. Oral numbing gels, orthodontic wax (wax creates a smooth surface and alleviates irritation on the inner cheeks and lips), or topical numbing medications, such as Orajel, may also help stop braces pain.

Eat Soft Foods

Choose soft meals after your braces have been adjusted to avoid pain when eating. Smoothies, mashed potatoes, and most soups don’t need much chewing and are ideal for the period when your teeth and mouth are still sore. As teeth gradually move throughout the orthodontic treatment, you may need to consume soft foods on a regular basis, depending on dental sensitivity.

Take Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever

Adults, kids, and teenagers may use over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol or Advil to alleviate pain and sore teeth after tightening braces. The pain reliever may be taken in combination with salt water rinses to relieve the soreness. Just make sure to follow the medication’s dose recommendations and directions, and to contact your orthodontist regularly. Over-the-counter pain medication or dental wax may be an efficient short-term remedy to mouth discomfort caused by braces tightening, but they should not be used long-term since they can cause a variety of health claims if used often.

Stimulate Blood Flow in Your Gums

It’s difficult to think about chewing when your braces hurt. Chewing, however, will help you to gradually adapt by boosting blood flow in your gums, which will, in turn, reduce inflammation. Increased blood flow may be achieved in a variety of ways, including:

  • Chew on gum (make sure it is sugarless gum)
  • Massage your gums with your finger or cotton swab
  • Chew on a bite wafer

No matter what you do, make sure that you don’t pick at your braces. If you harm them, this may significantly lengthen your orthodontic treatment time. Furthermore, it will increase the overall price of them. It might be difficult to resist the impulse to touch or tweak them, particularly when they are annoying you, but avoiding the urge to do so can save you weeks, if not months, of time.

blue ice packs and towels


As you can see, having your braces tightened multiple times is not only important but essential if you want them to give you the results you hope for.

It’s a relief to learn that while your orthodontist tightens your braces hurts a bit or can cause some initial discomfort, those feelings will not last long and generally you should be feeling better within a few days. It’s also good to know that there are actions you can take to minimize the braces pain and make it way less noticeable.

Braces can work wonders on many smiles and can make them shine like never before. The process of tightening them is an important and healthy part of having braces.

Ready for a confident, healthy smile?

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