When most people think about services provided by an orthodontist, they assume the work will involve braces. Braces indeed make up a large part of an orthodontist’s work, but there are other services provided, too. Aside from metal or ceramic braces, your orthodontist may determine your treatment plan requires clear aligners, palatal expanders, lip bumpers, retainers, or space fillers.
All of these services and devices involve increased self-care immediately after any procedure is done. Temporary discomfort is unavoidable, but it can be lessened by a few proactive measures and some specific things during the first week of braces.
In this article, we break down eight tips for your first week of orthodontic treatment. By incorporating these tips into your daily routine you will sail through the week, knowing that it will all be worth it at the end of your treatment plan!
Tips for Your First Week of Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontic devices work by placing gentle, persistent pressure on your teeth and jaw. This pressure slowly moves misaligned teeth or jawbones into the proper alignment identified by your orthodontist at the beginning of your treatment.
At first, especially during the first week, the pressure is usually noticeable to you and can be uncomfortable. This tenderness can be managed, though.
Here are some proven ways to get through your first week pain-free.
#1 – Take an Over-the-Counter Pain Medication Before an Appointment
As soon as you check your schedule for the day and see you have an orthodontic appointment, take the over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medication you normally use for headaches or muscle pain. It will help control the pain and inflammation that happens when increased pressure is put on your teeth or jaw.
The discomfort usually lasts less than a week, so you can continue to take the pain reliever as needed. Keep in mind that severe or extended pain isn’t normal and you don’t have to endure it. Call your orthodontist and ask for advice and assistance.
#2 – Rinse With Salt Water for Discomfort
You can rinse your mouth out with warm salt water to help alleviate any first-week pain. Do this five or six times a day.
#3 – Use Braces Wax
With some orthodontic devices, metal or hard plastic is inserted into your mouth and stays there until your treatment is over. This hardware can sometimes irritate your lips, tongue, and cheeks at first, especially when it is tightened or adjusted. Your mouth will adjust to some degree and any irritation will disappear.
Braces wax can be a lifesaver in these situations! You only need a small amount to create a barrier between the hardware and the irritated area inside the mouth. Dry off the area in the mouth, roll a small bit of wax in your fingers until it becomes pliable, and then stick it on the hardware that is the culprit. Simply replace it periodically until you no longer need it.
#4 – Build Your Own Care Kit & Carry It With You When You Leave Home
It’s important to have a care kit with you at all times, especially during the first few weeks. This will allow you to take care of minor issues with your orthodontic devices immediately, no matter where you are.
Here are the items you will need.
- A toothbrush
- Floss, floss threaders, or orthodontic flossers
- A small mirror
- Braces wax
- OTC pain reliever
- Interdental brushes
Make sure to brush and floss after eating. The OTC pain reliever will help with any discomfort right away, and the wax can be used to protect your lips and cheeks. The mirror is handy to check areas not easily seen.
#5 – Use an Orthodontic Mouthguard When Playing Sports
You can protect your mouth and your orthodontic appliances by using an orthodontic mouthguard. A blow to the mouth or face can happen unexpectedly, so make sure to use the mouthguard whenever you participate in sports or other physical activity. It will effectively take the force of an impact and save your braces or other devices, as well as your mouth, lips, and gums.
#6 – Drink Plenty of Water
Carry a food-grade stainless steel water bottle with you and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Aside from staying hydrated, water is good for rinsing your mouth out quickly any time you eat. It is important to get all bits of food out of your braces and devices as soon as possible.
#7 – Be Prepared Before Leaving the Orthodontist’s Office
As you get ready to leave the orthodontist’s office, make sure you have asked all the questions you have or can think of. For example:
- What do I need to do before my next appointment?
- What do I do with the ends of wires that poke inside my mouth?
- What foods can I eat?
- What do I do if I have a lot of pain?
- What if I lose a clear aligner?
- What if I swallow some of the braces wax?
- How do I brush around the braces (or device)?
Make sure you know who to speak with when you call the orthodontist’s office in the event that you have a problem or question after you leave.
#8 – Be Kind to Yourself
Orthodontic treatment is a huge adjustment to make and it’s true that you may have some discomfort at first. Treat yourself to an “orthodontist-approved” food, like ice cream or soft yogurt. It won’t damage your braces or other devices and the coldness of the treat will feel wonderful on any soreness in your mouth. You deserve it!
Your Orthodontic Team at Dr. Amy James & Associates Is Here to Help
We are excited that you have made the decision that will affect the rest of your life! Wearing braces, aligners, or any other orthodontic device will work to create a beautiful smile and we are here to help.
By following the tips outlined in this article, your first week of orthodontic treatment–and later, too–will be as pain-free as possible. Remember that you should never live with extended, unrelieved pain during this time. Don’t hesitate to call our office and ask for help if that happens.
The team here at Dr. Amy James & Associates will be glad to advise you in any way we can. Our success is based on your success!
Contact us to set an appointment today and get started on the smile and self-confidence you’ve always wanted.