Do Braces Hurt? The Ultimate Guide

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How Much Do Braces Hurt on a Scale 1-10

Dr. Rodrigo F. Viecilli, DDS, PhD

Doctor and Owner

Limestone Hills Orthodontics

Austin TX

Do Braces Hurt?

Embrace our state-of-the-art orthodontics in the pursuit of your best smile at Limestone Hills with a top contender for best orthodontist in Austin! Brace yourselves, but embarking on your first orthodontic treatment journey doesn’t have to be painful. Although braces pain is a reality, it is not a harsh one. Let’s dive into the subject to share helpful tips to make your orthodontics experience a breeze. So how much do braces hurt on a scale 1-10?

Braces pain can be different for children and adults. The latter, especially the ones that never wore braces before, are less used to discomfort so we tend to recommend more comfortable and aesthetic forms of treatment for this type of patient when possible.


Getting Braces and Mucosal Irritation

Getting braces is a breeze, ranking at a mere 1 on the pain scale for I’d say 80% of people in Austin. The whole process consists of stretching your cheeks and protecting the tissues for some surface chemical treatments that need be performed for the bracket to stick to the teeth with glue. Some patients are unusually sensitive to pain. The process might be unfamiliar and slightly uncomfortable, but it’s not painful. Braces pain during this phase is 1 or less in a 1-10 scale.

After getting braces, the gum inflammation (or mucosa) can be irritated from having braces. We urge our patients to resist the irritation for a couple of days and maybe use an ice pack covered with a towel on the face before covering the braces with orthodontic wax that we provide for free. This is so we can allow for enough time for keratinized tissue (calluses) to form and create a natural relief and comfort for the one wearing braces throughout treatment. Soft wax can still be used in more sensitive areas of the inner cheeks.

The braces pain on the cheeks during this phase adaptation can achieve 1-2 in the scale. Over the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol can be recommended in this stage until wax relief is provided. Product manufacturers addressed safety of this medication and as long as you stick to less than 5 doses a day you should be ok.


Braces Pain or Discomfort When Teeth Start to Move

Once the teeth are pressed against the bone, wearing braces can be a bit more uncomfortable. In the worst-case scenarios, a pain scale of 2-3 can be reported depending on the individuals past experience with pain. Pain relievers, specifically Tylenol (paracetamol, acetaminophen) are definitely recommended. We don’t recommend NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as they can delay orthodontic treatment). Don’t count on financial pain at least! Metal braces are always covered by insurance /co-insurance.

All other types of braces are at least partially covered.

do braces hurt

Does braces pain change depending on where you are? Colder climate patients tend to feel less pain as our latest alloys tend to soften with colder air. Keeping your mouth open for cold air to come in can be a relief in colder climates! In Texas, you can compensate slight pain with cold water, or a cold finger or cotton swab pushed with the finger on the wire, not gums.

Ice cream or any cold soft foods typically make the wire softer and provide pain relief. This is because the initial orthodontic wire has two crystalline phases in equilibrium- eating colder foods makes the soft crystalline phase predominate. Every time the orthodontist regularly adjusts, or the orthodontist tightens the wire, some braces pain can occur. Just remember, if you eat soft foods that are also sweet, you must brush always after to prevent tooth decay and gums inflammation. The cold strategy can work depending on the types of wires being used. Ask your doctor.

Eating soft foods such as mashed potatoes and avoiding chewy, crunchy or sticky foods when a wire is first inserted will keep your appliances intact and accelerate your tooth movement by allowing the teeth to stay stable so new bone can form around them.

Some people believe in salt water rinses but with think that’s old lady’s tale stuff. In Austin, cold water and cold foods are the way to go. Our treatment plan will also be optimized to allow for the longest amount of time between visits to allow a wire to work, and to avoid having you coming to our practice every month like orthodontia for the older generations used to imply.

Our technology is totally different and improved. Your orthodontic appointment frequency and mouth adjusts will be a lot lower than yours or your parents! So don’t be surprised if the visit interval is as long as 2-3 months depending on how much work our “memory wire” has to do.

Thanks to Dr. Viecilli’s research with the Smartarch, the best orthodontic alignment archwire in the world, and others, we nailed it to make sure you get the least amount of the discomfort and side effect with the most amount of tooth movement. No oral anesthetics are ever needed! Not even here in Austin where the hot weather makes the wires stiffer!


Our orthodontic team and Dr will provide you with all the tools to assure new braces and your experience getting braces will be the most comfortable possible. But remember, wear braces it will never be like you have nothing in your mouth.

How Long do Braces Hurt after they Are Placed?

Immediate pain does not occur so you can eat normally, excluding the forbidden food list, in the fist 1-2 days. The typical period where inflammation starts to cause pain is 2-7 days depending on the individual genetics of inflammatory response and age. Pain tends to go away faster in kids than adults because the bone is usually more porous and the tooth moves faster. Blood flow can be restored faster in these situations and that is good for clearing up inflammation.

Many orthodontic treatments are dependent on elastic bands to correct issues with the bite. This means, after you got used to no braces pain for a while, the orthodontic discomfort can come back with the introduction of these bands. Rubber bands will introduce tooth movement in the entire arches and again there will be discomfort 2-3 in the pain scale. This doesn’t mean there’s something wrong, it’s just like the initial wire. If you remove the wire, and then replace it in a few hours pain can always return. Respect the waiting period- with normal wear, in a maximum of one week usually the pain dissipates.

It’s the same with the bands! Always keep them on, even for eating, and carry a bag with you if they snap. Keep always your visits current and only wear the rubber bands the amount prescribed by the orthodontist. Periodic adjustments on the position and force of the band may be needed. Any time these happen, you can have additional pressure and experience soreness and discomfort again. Yes, the discomfort will go away if you keep wearing your rubber bands 24/7 as prescribed. Normally the rubber bands are placed to connect the back molars to the front canines.

You have to make sure to keep your teeth clean and gums inflammation under control to minimize soreness and sensitivity both during treatment and braces removal. If you don’t brush your teeth, you’ll pay the price with more painful procedures throughout your treatment or have the risk to have it interrupted and even be from an orthodontic practice.

We even get the parents to brush their kids teeth to avoid that! Sometimes we need family effort (or even friends)! We don’t want any family to leave without their children with crooked teeth than straight and a loss of investment.

Having your braces tightened a couple of times can renew the inflammatory process, but usually for just a few teeth. The longer the treatment goes on, the less the level of soreness and discomfort for the patient.

How do we put orthodontic treatment appliances on? Do braces hurt when you put them on?

Putting braces on your child your mouth is a simple and virtually painless process. They etch your teeth with a slightly acidic substance that may be a bit sour when washed off. This is to make the enamel more porous to attach metal brackets to your teeth using color-matched dental cement and thread thin wires through them.

Tightening braces with o-ties or metallic ligatures might cause some discomfort. Your orthodontist will adjust the wires to apply pressure and gradually shift your front teeth and gums into proper alignment. It’s like a little pressure, nothing to worry about. And if you need it, over-the-counter pain relief is available. We only recommend Tylenol- ask the Dr about dosage. We will do all we can and use scientific evidence to keep the patients experience as smooth as possible to achieve the coveted new smile!

Many report self-ligating braces cause less pain in the beginning of treatment. But the best part is our self-ligating metal transparent braces that DO NOT STAIN! Most patients are frustrated that their o-ties get yellow during treatment with transparent braces but we spend 4x the cost to make sure you don’t have to come back to the office to change your o-ties if you take a turmeric shot or drink some wine.

our ceramic braces from Japan

Relax and we guarantee our ceramic Japanese high tech self-ligating brackets will keep back teeth and the wire in place and reduce your dental visits while optimizing oral health and aesthetics. Our special orthodontic burs are designed to remove only enamel so any suspicious health claims that we may be grinding on your teeth are no warranted! An insurance plan can partly cover the cost, even on the bottom teeth, so you are good to still save money when upgrading.

Removal: We use the latest scientific advances to make sure you are comfortable

We use Instruments that do not damage the teeth, and a black light that makes the glue fluoresce do we touch your teeth the least amount of time possible! The entire process is done very carefully and we check for remaining adhesive with our black light often to make sure contact with the actual teeth and gums surface is minimized.

When it’s time to say goodbye to your metal braces, the removal process is painless. A bit of mild discomfort might be felt, but overall, it’s a breeze. Your orthodontist will clean your teeth and possibly suggest a permanent retainer, to maintain your teeth adjust your newly-aligned smile.

If braces start causing minor pain or discomfort, don’t worry! We have tips to ease the pain. Orthodontic wax provides a protective barrier, and pain medications can offer relief from mild discomfort. Always consult your orthodontist for the best treatment options.

With braces, any pain or discomfort is no longer a concern. Get ready to embrace your journey to a confident smile! Learn more about the innovative SmartArch wire that can speed up your treatment time and require fewer adjustments.


How much do braces hurt?


The Smartarch can reduce inflammation and stay with your mouth on it up to 4 months because it can replace up to 3 wire changes! it’s the most expensive archwire in the world but our office team offers it for free because he is one of the inventors. Each little area of the wire between the brackets has a different stiffness optimizing the force for each tooth! Amazing!



Does Invisalign Hurt as much as metal braces? About the same with smartarch



Does Invisalign Hurt as Much as Traditional Metal Braces?


The research shows that with conventional wires, Invisalign or clear aligners in general may actually hurt less and cause less side effects than braces. But the Smartarch is a gamechanger, and no research has been done comparing the two, but my personal opinion is that it’s a tie.

Your comfort, well-being, and radiant smile are at the heart of what our orthodontist and our friendly staff deliver to your family or yourself (yes we also treat adults!).


Trust in our expertise, and get ready to unveil a confident, beaming you with a beautiful smile. Your dream smile awaits, and we’re here to make it reality. Contact us today for a free consultation! 


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