What to Do When You Get a Toothache While Wearing Braces

Posted on: November 18, 2019 | Blog

Braces are the most popular method for straightening teeth, correcting overbites, and fixing other issues that may be affecting your smile. Braces work by pushing teeth into the correct position overtime. The can result in a toothache with braces, especially after an appointment when braces are tightened. Knowing how to get rid of braces pain can help make this process easier and make straight, beautiful teeth even more enjoyable.

How to Get Rid of Braces Pain: 17 Remedies for Toothaches with Braces

1. Over the Counter Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain medicines are an easy way to get rid of most braces pain. There are many different types of pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, which is used in Tylenol, NSAIDs, which is used in ibuprofen, or naproxen, which is used in Aleve. Prescription pain medication should not be necessary for braces pain and should not be used, especially those that carry risks for addiction.

Be careful to use paid medications only as directed, and make sure they do not interact with other medications you are taking. NSAIDs, for example, can reduce inflammation and soreness, but they are also blood thinners that can interact negatively with other medications. NSAIDS can also cause stomach ulcers when overused. Acetaminophen can be used to relieve headaches and muscle aches, but using more than the recommended dose can cause liver damage. Read the labels carefully and use as directed.

2. Apply Ice Packs

Ice works well for all types of soreness, including braces pain. You might use a frozen ice pack, fill a Ziploc bag with ice cubes, or even a frozen bag of vegetables. Wrap a towel around the ice pack and be careful not to fall asleep with the ice sitting on you.

3. Apply Heat

What to Do When You Get a Toothache While Wearing Braces

Heat works similarly to ice by relaxing the muscles and reducing inflammation. You might use a heated blanket or heating pad, or a microwavable warmer. You can make your own microwavable warmer by filling a clean sock with uncooked rice. Add essential oil, leaves, or flowers from lavender, eucalyptus, chamomile, or lemon balm for even better relaxing effects.

4. Try Cold Drinks or Food

Cold drinks and food work similarly to ice packs by temporarily numbing the pain in the gums. Drink cold water, eat ice cream, popsicles, slushies or try your other favorite cold foods and drinks.

5. Eat Soft Foods

If your braces are causing you pain, reduce the pressure on your teeth as much as possible. Eat soft foods like ice cream, yoghurt, bananas, mashed potatoes, or soup, and avoid crunchy, tough foods. To make the process a bit easier, you might reward yourself (or your child) with a particular treat.

6. Apply an Oral Anesthetic

Oral anesthetics are gels that you can safely apply to any area inside your mouth to stop pain. This can be an especially effective way to get rid of braces pain that is localized to one area. These gels will create temporary numbness to stop the pain from a toothache with braces.

7. Salt Water Rinse

In some cases, the wires and brackets from braces can create sores where they rub against the mouth. Use a salt water rinse to keep these areas free of infection and ease pain. This will happen a few times, but if you notice it often, visit your dentist.

8. Use Orthodontic Wax

Orthodontic wax can also be an effective way to get rid of braces pain occurring from wires or brackets rubbing on the mouth or cheeks. Orthodontic wax reduces friction and protects areas of the mouth that might develop sores.

9. Frozen Teething Rings

Teething rings work for infants by relieving pressure from incoming teeth through chewing. Frozen teething rings can have a similar effect on toothaches from braces. The gentle chewing helps to relieve pressure from the wires and the cold helps to numb pain in and around the gums.

10. Gum Massage

A gentle massage improves blood flow and relaxes muscles and nerves, which can help with pain. If you have a toothache from braces, massage the area in a circular motion with light pressure using your first two or three fingers. If the pain extends to your head or neck, massage these areas as well, sit in a massage chair, or get a massage from a professional.

11. Clean Teeth

Braces pain can be tough, but pain from a cavity or infection on top of it is even worse. If the jaw pain from braces doesn’t improve after a few days, this might be pain from a cavity instead. One of the best ways to reduce pain from braces and avoid problems is to practice good dental hygiene. Set aside plenty of time to brush and floss your teeth with braces, so you don’t feel rushed.

12. See the Dentist

Though some pain and discomfort is normal, especially after getting braces for the first time or just after getting the wires tightened, this pain should not be persistent. If the pain does not improve, or if you are frequently seeing sores or cuts in your mouth, see your dentist right away. Your dentist can correct the braces’ placement so they cause less pain. Your dentist might also be able to recommend other ways to get rid of braces pain in your case specifically.

13. Distraction

Focusing on the pain won’t actually make it worse, but it will seem like it is. The inverse is also true; distraction can actually be an effective method to get rid of braces pain. Studies indicate that people report less pain when they’re focused on something else, and this is especially true for children and teens. This can be almost anything that engages the brain, such as a word puzzle, personality quiz, video game, movie or tv show, book, music, painting or drawing, audiobook, or something else.

14. Placebo Effect

The placebo effect is a strange phenomenon that may help to get rid of braces pain. This tip will work best for parents of children who have toothaches with braces, and it will require a bit of temporary fibbing. To study the placebo effect, researchers give patients “medication” that actually has no effect, such as a sugar pill, and study the results. Oddly, patients report feeling better in many circumstances, despite taking no actual medicine.

To take advantage of a placebo effect for your child’s toothache with braces, you might say a regular pain reliever is a stronger, special one, or that a different type of pain reliever is designed to work better for braces pain. Of course, you can always explain this strategy after your child gets their braces removed.

15. Reassurance

This tip is also for parents of children who have toothaches with braces. When a child complains of braces pain after tightening, many parents’ first instinct is to tell them “it’s not that bad.” When the child asked for braces, especially if it was difficult to budget for braces, it can be tough to listen to complaints. However, this often adds frustration and anger on top of pain. Sympathize with your child, and assure them that the pain is only temporary. Studies show that a calming tone and reassurance that the pain is normal, though unpleasant, can help reduce pain.

16. Take a Nap

Tiredness makes pain worse in almost every scenario. If you’re feeling very edgy or if the pain is making it hard to take part in other activities, try sleeping it off. Consider an over-the-counter sleep aid or a pain reliever with a sleep aid, such as Advil PM, to get to sleep.

17. Remember the End Result

Remember that the pain from braces is temporary, but a beautiful smile is permanent. Keep this goal in mind and practice your winning smile for when you get your braces removed.

Try combining some of these ways to reduce pain from braces and make the experience easier. Follow your dentist’s instructions and remember to maintain good oral hygiene with braces. If you’re a parent to a child with braces, or one who wants braces, try to be patient and remind your child how happy they’ll be with straight, beautiful teeth.


Boston Dental Group operates approximately 18 general dentistry practices in the Las Vegas area, and an orthodontic practice called Affordable Braces. We believe that orthodontic work is more than just creating a beautiful smile. Schedule an orthodontic consultation to find out how we can help your smile.

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