At-Home Care for Orthodontic Soreness

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At-home Care for Orthodontic Soreness 

After you get braces and/or an orthodontic appliance, it can take several days to get used to them.  During this time, your mouth may feel tender or sore.  While soreness is rarely problematic enough to warrant additional dental care, contact our office if soreness becomes highly uncomfortable.

Causes of Orthodontic Soreness

When you first get an orthodontic appliance, braces are applied, or the archwire is changed during an adjustment appointment, your teeth start to gradually shift toward their new position.  This movement causes adjacent tissue to become inflamed, which is to be expected.  This inflammation causes fibers that join the teeth to the jawbone and gums (periodontal ligaments) to swell.  The swelling compresses nerves and causes orthodontic soreness.

What Can Be Done to Ease Soreness?

Orthodontic discomfort generally decreases within a few days.  After your first get an orthodontic appliance or braces, it can take between one and two weeks for the tissues of the tongue, cheek, and lips to adapt to the new orthodontic device.  There are several things you can do at home, however, that will help ease initial discomfort:

Wax Application

If the soreness is being caused by braces rubbing on the cheek, lip, or tongue, orthodontic wax may be applied to the braces or appliance to provide a smoother, less abrasive surface.  Orthodontic wax is usually provided at your appointment and can be obtained from our office.  To apply:  roll a pea-sized amount of wax into a ball and place it on the protruding and bothersome part of the appliance.  Gently press the wax into place and cover any irritating surfaces.  

Salt Water Rinses

Warm salt water is an excellent remedy for sore lips, gums, and cheeks.  The salt water mixture extracts excess fluid in your inflamed tissue by way of osmosis, alleviating pressure on the nerves and easing soreness.  To apply:  add a teaspoon of salt to approximately half a cup of lukewarm water.  Without gargling, swish the water around your mouth for one minute before spitting it out.

Chewing Soft Foods

You can also chew soft foods that won’t damage your braces.  Apple and cheese slices work nicely, as do small celery slices. The chewing action compresses the fibers that fix the teeth and gums together (periodontal ligaments), thus pumping out the fluid accumulation that causes soreness.

Eat Berries

Not only do berries contain high levels of antioxidants, they can also substantially reduce intraoral swelling.  Cherries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries all contain natural anti-inflammatory properties which reduce soreness.  Cherries are preferable because they are soft enough not to damage the braces and do not contain small seeds which tend to stick between the braces; however, take care to avoid the pit.

Pain Medication

Orthodontic soreness does not usually require over-the-counter pain medications.  However, some patients find that this helps alleviate soreness when other remedies are not effective.

If you have any questions or concerns about orthodontic soreness, please feel free to contact our office at 517-393-8500.

Day Family Dental

Dr. Nathan Day, DMD • Dentist • Lansing, MI


We combine experience with the latest in dental technology to deliver the best patient experience possible.