One simple tip for dealing with uncomfortable braces

In your first few weeks of having braces, you’re going to be uncomfortable. You’re still getting used to your braces and your mind is going to play random tricks on you with pain out of nowhere. This will happen especially after you go in for your monthly adjustments. Your orthodontist will recommend that you keep some painkillers around with you as you go through these transition periods.

Many people with braces in the beginning find that they often bite the insides of their cheeks when they are adjusting. The good news is that the scar tissue forms which is tougher, similar to the callouses on the bottom of your feet.

You teeth will eventually get used to the pressure on them and the pain after adjustments will go away quickly. But what can you do in the meantime to make the pain go away?

The simple answer: distract yourself.

Your brain is smart, but not that smart. All pain is a product of neurons firing in your brain and responding to stimuli. When your teeth are moved, your brain is making a best guess as to what if happening. We know that when braces are tightened, the cell regeneration process forces an adjustment. The teeth slowly move over time and bone is broken down (on the side with pressure) and reformed (on the side with no pressure).

This isn’t a normal occurrence so your brain reacts to this as pain. However, over a period of time, your brain will adapt. To get your brain to adapt faster, simply occupy yourself with distracting tasks that require significant amounts of attention and before long, you won’t notice the pain in your teeth.

This great Ted talk has more information about pain.

The good news for those of you with a lower pain tolerance is that today’s braces are actually more gentle than in the past. Before, large movements were made because devices weren’t as precise. Today’s wires move teeth more slowly over a long period of time which means your body has more time to adjust to the continual pressure. You’ll find that as you progress through your orthodontic treatments, you will progress through different arch wires.

Photo credit:  lorenkerns

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