Do Braces Hurt? What To Expect

Getting braces is a significant step towards achieving a healthy, beautiful smile. However, it’s not uncommon for people to have concerns about discomfort and pain during their orthodontic journey. If you’re considering braces or already have them, you might be wondering: do braces hurt?

At Coastal Orthodontics, we understand that the fear of pain can be a common worry when it comes to orthodontic treatment. That’s why we’re here to provide you with valuable insights and guidance on what to expect during your braces journey.

In this article, we’ll take you through the various aspects of braces-related discomfort, including what it feels like, when it’s most likely to occur, and how to manage it effectively. We’ll also offer practical tips and advice on maintaining your oral health and making the most of your orthodontic experience.

So, if you’re curious about braces pain and want to know how to minimize it, read on. Let’s dive into the world of orthodontics and uncover the truth about braces discomfort.

Understanding Braces

Before we delve into the topic of whether braces hurt, let’s start by understanding what braces are and how they work.

Braces, also known as orthodontic braces or simply brackets, are a tried-and-true method for straightening teeth and correcting misaligned bites. They consist of several key components:


These are the small, square-shaped pieces that are bonded to the front surface of each tooth using a dental adhesive.


Thin, flexible wires that connect the brackets and apply gentle pressure to guide your teeth into their desired positions.


Sometimes, metal bands are placed around the back teeth to anchor the braces securely.


These are small rubber bands used to help correct bite issues by adjusting the alignment of your upper and lower teeth.

Braces work by exerting continuous pressure on your teeth, which stimulates the bone to change shape. This gradual movement allows the teeth to shift into their proper alignment over time.

The duration of orthodontic treatment with braces can vary from person to person, typically lasting from one to three years. During this time, your orthodontist will make periodic adjustments to your braces, tightening the wires as needed to ensure steady progress.

Now that you have a basic understanding of braces, let’s address the big question: do braces hurt, and if so, when can you expect discomfort?

Initial Discomfort

It’s completely normal to experience some level of discomfort when you first get braces. This discomfort is usually more of a sensation rather than intense pain. Here’s what you can expect:


Shortly after your braces are placed, you may feel soreness in your mouth. This is because your teeth are starting to move, and the pressure from the braces is affecting your oral tissues. It’s akin to the feeling after an intense workout.


The brackets and wires may initially rub against the cheeks, lips, or tongue, causing some irritation. Your orthodontist will provide you with orthodontic wax that you can apply to smooth out any rough edges and alleviate this irritation.

Mild Pain

You might experience mild pain or tenderness in your teeth. This typically occurs within the first few days after getting braces and can last for about a week. Over-the-counter pain relievers, as recommended by your orthodontist, can help manage this discomfort.

Difficulty Eating

Adjusting to braces can make eating a bit tricky initially. Stick to softer foods and avoid hard, crunchy, or sticky items until you adapt to your braces.

Speech Changes

You may notice slight changes in your speech patterns initially. This is temporary and improves as you get used to speaking with braces.

Remember that discomfort during the initial days of having braces is a sign that the treatment is working. It means your teeth are responding to the pressure, and they’re on their way to becoming beautifully aligned. As your mouth adjusts to the braces, the discomfort will gradually subside.

In the next section, we’ll explore what you can do to manage and alleviate this initial discomfort effectively.

What Does Braces Pain Feel Like?

If you’re about to get braces or have recently had them placed, you might be wondering what braces pain actually feels like. Understanding the sensations associated with braces can help ease your concerns. Here’s what you might experience:


The most common sensation with braces is pressure. You’ll feel this pressure when the wires are adjusted during your orthodontic appointments. It’s similar to the feeling of mild pressure on your teeth and jaws. This pressure is necessary to gradually move your teeth into their desired positions.


Many people describe the initial days after getting braces as a period of soreness. It’s as if your teeth are aching slightly. This soreness usually peaks about 24 to 72 hours after the braces are placed or adjusted and gradually subsides.

Discomfort When Biting

You might notice some discomfort or sensitivity when you bite down. This is because the braces are changing the alignment of your bite. It’s not sharp pain but more of a noticeable change in how your teeth come together.

Mouth Sores

The brackets and wires of braces can sometimes cause small sores or ulcers in your mouth, especially during the initial days. These are usually due to friction between the braces and the soft tissues of your cheeks, lips, or tongue.


As your mouth gets used to the braces, you may experience some irritation. This can include the brackets and wires rubbing against your cheeks, lips, or tongue. Orthodontic wax provided by your orthodontist can be very helpful in alleviating this irritation.

It’s important to note that the discomfort associated with braces is typically manageable. Over-the-counter pain relievers as recommended by your orthodontist can help, as can orthodontic wax for any sharp edges that might cause irritation.

Remember that this initial discomfort is a natural part of the orthodontic process, and it means your braces are doing their job. As your teeth gradually move into their new positions, you’ll find that the discomfort diminishes, and you’ll soon be on your way to a beautifully aligned smile.

In the next section, we’ll discuss some strategies for managing and minimizing braces pain.

Timeline of Discomfort

Understanding the timeline of discomfort associated with braces can help you mentally prepare for what to expect during your orthodontic journey. Here’s a general overview of how the discomfort typically progresses:

Initial Placement (Day 1 – 3)

The first few days after getting braces are often the most uncomfortable. You’ll likely experience soreness and a feeling of pressure as your teeth begin to adjust to the braces. It’s during this time that over-the-counter pain relievers and orthodontic wax can be especially helpful.

Adjustment Appointments (Every 4 – 8 Weeks)

Each time your orthodontist adjusts your braces, you can expect some discomfort for a day or two afterward. This is because the wires are being tightened or changed to continue moving your teeth. The pressure and soreness are normal reactions to these adjustments.

Ongoing Soreness (Throughout Treatment)

While the acute discomfort usually subsides after the initial days and post-adjustment periods, you may still experience mild soreness periodically. This is typically related to the ongoing movement of your teeth. Remember, it’s a sign that your braces are actively working to straighten your teeth.

Managing Irritation 

Throughout your orthodontic treatment, you might encounter occasional irritation caused by the brackets and wires rubbing against the soft tissues of your mouth. Be sure to use orthodontic wax provided by your orthodontist to alleviate any discomfort associated with this.

Final Stages (Last Few Months) 

As you approach the final stages of your treatment, you’ll notice that the discomfort becomes less frequent and less intense. This is a sign that your teeth are nearing their desired positions.

It’s important to communicate openly with your orthodontist about any persistent or severe discomfort you may experience. They can provide guidance and adjustments to make your treatment as comfortable as possible.

Remember, while discomfort is a normal part of the braces journey, it’s temporary. The end result – a beautifully aligned smile – is well worth it. In the next section, we’ll discuss strategies for managing and alleviating braces-related discomfort.

Tips for Managing Braces Pain

Experiencing some discomfort with braces is normal, but there are several strategies you can use to make the journey more comfortable:

Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

Non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage instructions.

Orthodontic Wax

Your orthodontist will provide you with orthodontic wax. Apply it to any brackets or wires that are causing irritation or rubbing against the inside of your mouth. This wax creates a smooth surface, reducing friction.

Saltwater Rinses

Gargling with warm saltwater can help soothe any oral sores or irritations caused by braces. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and swish it around your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit it out.

Cold Compress

If you experience significant swelling or soreness, applying a cold compress to your cheeks can help reduce inflammation and provide relief. Use it for about 15 minutes at a time.

Soft Diet

Stick to softer foods during the initial days after getting braces or after adjustments. Soup, yogurt, mashed potatoes, and smoothies can be easier on your teeth and gums. Avoid crunchy or hard foods that can increase discomfort.

Orthodontic Tools

Invest in orthodontic tools like interdental brushes and floss threaders to help maintain good oral hygiene and reduce irritation. Proper cleaning can prevent additional discomfort.

Follow Orthodontist’s Advice

Listen to your orthodontist’s instructions carefully. They will provide guidance on caring for your braces and managing discomfort.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water can help with overall oral health and reduce irritation caused by dry mouth.

Keep Orthodontic Appointments

Regularly scheduled appointments with your orthodontist are crucial. They’ll make adjustments to your braces that might cause temporary discomfort but are essential for the progress of your treatment.

Be Patient

Remember that discomfort from braces is temporary and part of the process. As your teeth gradually move into their correct positions, the discomfort will decrease over time.

By following these tips and maintaining good oral hygiene, you can manage the discomfort associated with braces effectively. If you have concerns or if the pain persists beyond what you consider normal, don’t hesitate to reach out to your orthodontist. They are there to ensure your orthodontic journey is as comfortable as possible. In the next section, we’ll address common questions and concerns about braces pain.

Adjustments and Tightening

One aspect of braces treatment that can contribute to discomfort is the regular adjustments and tightening. Your orthodontist will schedule these appointments to ensure that your teeth are progressing as planned and to make necessary modifications to your braces. While these appointments are essential for the success of your treatment, they can sometimes lead to temporary discomfort. Here’s what to expect:

Adjustment Period

After each adjustment, you may experience some soreness or discomfort. This is entirely normal as it signifies that your teeth are responding to the changes in pressure. The sensation typically lasts for a few days and gradually subsides.

Modified Eating Habits 

It’s advisable to stick to a soft diet during the initial days following an adjustment. Foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, and soup are easier on your teeth and less likely to cause additional discomfort.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

If you find the discomfort particularly bothersome, over-the-counter pain relievers, as recommended by your orthodontist, can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

Orthodontic Wax

After adjustments, new wires or brackets may rub against your cheeks, lips, or tongue. Applying orthodontic wax can help create a barrier and prevent irritation.

Follow Orthodontist’s Instructions

Your orthodontist will provide specific instructions following each adjustment. These might include how to care for your braces and manage any discomfort. Be sure to follow their advice closely.

Gradual Improvement

Remember that the discomfort you experience after adjustments is part of the process, and it’s a sign that your braces are working to move your teeth. As your teeth adjust to their new positions, the discomfort will gradually diminish.

Clear Communication

If you find the discomfort excessive or if you have concerns about the way your braces feel after an adjustment, don’t hesitate to communicate with your orthodontist. They can make minor modifications to improve your comfort.

Regular adjustments are crucial for achieving the desired results with your braces. While they may cause temporary discomfort, the benefits of a well-aligned smile and improved oral health are well worth it. In the next section, we’ll address common misconceptions about braces and pain.

Eating with Braces

One of the most common concerns among individuals with braces is how to navigate their diet. While it’s true that braces come with certain dietary restrictions, rest assured that with a bit of adjustment, you can continue enjoying a variety of foods while keeping your orthodontic treatment on track. Here are some tips for eating with braces:

Soft Foods Are Your Friends

Especially during the initial days of getting braces or after adjustments, focus on soft, easy-to-chew foods. These include pasta, rice, steamed vegetables, yogurt, mashed potatoes, and soups. Soft foods are less likely to damage your braces or cause discomfort.

Avoid Sticky and Chewy Treats

Candies, caramels, chewing gum, and sticky snacks are a no-go with braces. They can easily get lodged in your braces, leading to potential damage and hygiene issues. Opt for healthier snack choices like apple slices (cut into small pieces), bananas, or yogurt.

Be Wary of Hard Foods

Foods like nuts, popcorn, ice, and crunchy snacks can pose a risk to your braces by breaking wires or brackets. If you enjoy these foods, it’s best to consume them in small, manageable pieces.

Cut or Slice Hard Fruits and Vegetables

Rather than biting into whole apples, carrots, or corn on the cob, cut them into smaller, bite-sized pieces to reduce the risk of damaging your braces.

Cleanliness Is Key

Proper oral hygiene is essential when you have braces. Brush your teeth after every meal, and consider using a special interdental brush or floss threader to clean between your braces and teeth. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene helps prevent issues like cavities and gum disease during orthodontic treatment.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water throughout the day helps flush away food particles and prevents dry mouth. It’s especially beneficial after meals when brushing might not be possible.

Follow Your Orthodontist’s Advice 

Your orthodontist will provide specific dietary guidelines based on your unique case. Make sure to follow their recommendations closely to ensure the best possible outcome from your braces treatment.

Remember that while there are some dietary adjustments to consider, these changes are temporary. Once your orthodontic treatment is complete, you’ll have a beautifully aligned smile that was well worth the effort. In the next section, we’ll address the timeline of discomfort associated with braces.

Oral Hygiene and Care

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is paramount when you have braces. Brackets, wires, and other components provide numerous nooks and crannies where food particles and plaque can accumulate. Proper care not only ensures your teeth stay healthy but also contributes to the overall success of your orthodontic treatment. Here’s how to care for your oral health with braces:

Brush After Every Meal 

Make it a habit to brush your teeth after every meal, including snacks. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush gently but thoroughly, aiming to clean both the surfaces of your teeth and the brackets.

Invest in Interdental Brushes

Interdental brushes or proxabrushes are small, cone-shaped brushes designed to clean between your braces and teeth. Use them to reach areas that your regular toothbrush can’t access.

Floss Daily

Flossing can be a bit challenging with braces, but it’s essential. A floss threader or orthodontic floss can help you navigate around the wires and brackets. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between your teeth.

Rinse with Mouthwash 

Swishing with an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash can help kill bacteria and strengthen your enamel. It’s an extra step to enhance your oral hygiene routine.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Continue with your regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can monitor your overall oral health and address any issues that may arise during your orthodontic treatment.

Consider a Water Flosser

A water flosser, also known as an oral irrigator, uses a stream of water to clean between teeth and around braces. It can be an effective alternative to traditional flossing.

Watch Your Diet

As mentioned earlier, be mindful of the foods you consume to prevent damage to your braces. Avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks that can contribute to tooth decay.

Emergency Kit

Create a small kit that includes orthodontic wax (for covering irritating wires or brackets), a spare toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss. Having this kit on hand can be invaluable if you encounter any issues with your braces while on the go.

Remember that investing time and effort into your oral hygiene routine will not only ensure the success of your orthodontic treatment but also promote long-term dental health. In the next section, we’ll discuss the timeline of discomfort associated with braces.

Regular Check-ups

Throughout your orthodontic journey with braces, regular check-ups with your orthodontist are a crucial part of ensuring that everything is progressing as planned. These appointments are essential for monitoring the alignment of your teeth, the condition of your braces, and making necessary adjustments. Here’s what to expect during your regular check-ups:

Monitoring Progress 

Your orthodontist will assess the progress of your treatment at each check-up. They’ll examine how your teeth are moving and whether your bite is improving as expected.


In many cases, adjustments will be made during these appointments. This typically involves tightening or replacing wires and making necessary changes to the braces to continue guiding your teeth into their desired positions.

Addressing Concerns

If you’ve experienced any issues or discomfort since your last appointment, this is the time to discuss them. Your orthodontist can provide solutions to alleviate discomfort or fix any problems with your braces.

Oral Hygiene Assessment

Your orthodontist will also assess your oral hygiene habits and the condition of your teeth and gums. They may offer tips and guidance on improving your oral care routine if needed.

Treatment Duration Updates

During check-ups, your orthodontist will provide updates on the expected duration of your treatment. They’ll discuss the progress you’ve made and any remaining steps in your orthodontic journey.

X-Rays and Imaging

Periodic X-rays and imaging may be necessary to get a detailed view of the changes happening within your mouth. This helps your orthodontist plan and adjust your treatment effectively.

Questions and Concerns

Use this time to ask any questions or express concerns you may have about your treatment. Your orthodontist is there to provide guidance and ensure you feel comfortable throughout the process.

Scheduling Future Appointments

Your orthodontist will schedule your next appointment. Be sure to mark it on your calendar and make arrangements to attend, as regularity is key to the success of your treatment.

Remember that these check-up appointments are designed to ensure the effectiveness of your braces and address any issues promptly. Staying committed to attending these appointments as recommended by your orthodontist will help you achieve the best results in the shortest possible time. In the next section, we’ll discuss maintaining your oral health during your braces journey.

When to Seek Help

While some level of discomfort and adjustment is normal when you have braces, there are situations where you should seek help from your orthodontist between regular check-ups. Here are some scenarios in which you should contact your orthodontist:

Persistent Pain

It’s common to experience some discomfort or soreness, especially after adjustments. However, if you have persistent, sharp pain that doesn’t improve or worsens over time, it’s essential to contact your orthodontist. There might be an issue with your braces that needs attention.

Broken or Loose Brackets

If any of the brackets or wires become loose, broken, or detached, you should notify your orthodontist immediately. Broken or damaged components can disrupt your treatment progress and may cause discomfort or injury.

Irritation or Sores

If you develop ulcers, sores, or irritation on your cheeks, lips, or tongue due to the braces, don’t hesitate to reach out to your orthodontist. They can provide guidance on how to alleviate discomfort and may recommend orthodontic wax or other solutions.

Gum Swelling or Bleeding

If your gums become swollen, painful, or bleed excessively, this could be a sign of an issue with your braces or your oral hygiene. Contact your orthodontist for guidance on how to manage the situation.

Allergic Reactions 

Although rare, some individuals may have allergies to certain materials used in braces. If you notice unusual symptoms such as excessive itching, rashes, or swelling in your mouth or around your face, consult your orthodontist immediately.

Trauma or Injury

In the event of trauma or injury to your face or mouth, contact your orthodontist right away. They can assess the extent of any damage and make necessary adjustments to your braces to ensure your safety and comfort.

Difficulty Eating or Speaking

If you experience persistent difficulty eating or speaking due to your braces, don’t wait to seek help. Your orthodontist can make adjustments to improve your comfort and functionality.

Lost Appliances

If you misplace or lose any removable appliances provided by your orthodontist, such as rubber bands or aligner trays, inform them as soon as possible. They can provide replacements and ensure your treatment stays on track.

Remember that your orthodontist is there to support you throughout your braces journey. They have the expertise to address any concerns or issues that may arise during your treatment. Never hesitate to reach out to them if you encounter any of the situations mentioned above. Timely communication can help prevent potential complications and ensure a smoother orthodontic experience.

In the next section, we’ll conclude our discussion on braces and what to expect during your orthodontic journey.

Gradual Improvement

Orthodontic treatment, including braces, is a gradual process. It’s important to remember that the discomfort and adjustment period you experience at the beginning is just one phase of your journey to a beautiful and healthy smile.

As time passes, you’ll likely notice improvements in your oral health and the alignment of your teeth. These positive changes are the result of the carefully planned adjustments made by your orthodontist. Here’s what you can expect as you progress through your treatment:

Alignment Progress

Over the course of your treatment, you’ll see your teeth gradually moving into their desired positions. This process can be slow, but it’s necessary to ensure the stability and long-term health of your smile.

Improved Bite

If you had bite issues before getting braces, you’ll notice significant improvements as your treatment progresses. Your orthodontist will ensure that your upper and lower teeth fit together correctly, reducing the risk of problems like uneven wear or jaw discomfort.

Enhanced Oral Health 

Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean and maintain. As your teeth become straighter, you’ll find it simpler to brush and floss effectively. This can lead to better oral hygiene and a lower risk of dental issues like cavities and gum disease.

Increased Confidence

Many people begin orthodontic treatment to improve the appearance of their smiles. As your teeth become straighter and your bite improves, you’re likely to feel more confident about your appearance. This boost in self-esteem can have a positive impact on various aspects of your life.

Greater Comfort

While braces may cause initial discomfort, as your teeth settle into their new positions, you’ll experience less irritation and soreness. Regular adjustments will help ensure your braces continue to work effectively and comfortably.

Treatment Milestones

Your orthodontist will establish specific milestones throughout your treatment to evaluate progress. These milestones help track your journey and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.


After your braces are removed, you may be required to wear a retainer to maintain the results of your treatment. Your orthodontist will provide guidance on retainer use and follow-up appointments to monitor your progress.

Throughout your orthodontic journey, it’s essential to maintain open communication with your orthodontist. They will provide guidance, address your concerns, and celebrate your achievements along the way. Remember that orthodontic treatment is an investment in your long-term oral health and overall well-being.

In the next section, we’ll conclude our discussion on braces and what to expect during your orthodontic experience.


In the world of orthodontics, the question of whether braces hurt is a common one. It’s important to recognize that while there may be some initial discomfort and adjustment, the long-term benefits of braces far outweigh any temporary inconveniences.

Braces are a tried-and-true method for achieving a straighter smile and improving your oral health. They address a wide range of issues, from misaligned teeth to bite problems. Remember that everyone’s experience with braces is unique, and discomfort levels can vary.

As you embark on your orthodontic journey, keep in mind that the initial soreness and adjustment phase is just that – an initial phase. Over time, you’ll notice gradual improvements in your smile, bite, and overall oral health. These positive changes are the result of your orthodontist’s expertise and the effectiveness of the treatment.

Tips for managing braces pain, maintaining oral hygiene, and staying committed to your treatment plan will all contribute to a smoother and more comfortable experience. Regular check-ups with your orthodontist will ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned.

Ultimately, the discomfort you may experience during your time with braces is a small price to pay for the lasting benefits of a beautifully aligned smile and improved oral health. So, if you’re wondering, “Do braces hurt?” – the answer is yes, there can be some discomfort, but it’s a temporary phase on your path to a healthier, more confident you.

If you have any questions or concerns about your orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out to your orthodontist. They are there to support you every step of the way, from initial consultations to the day your braces are removed, revealing your stunning new smile.

Remember, the journey to a straighter, healthier smile is well worth it, and you’ll be enjoying the benefits long after your braces come off.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your orthodontic journey, contact Coastal Orthodontics today. We’re here to help you achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of.

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Dr. Kaur

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