How to relieve pain from braces
June 23, 2006 9:23 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine is 34 and just got braces. They're really hurting her, the inside of her lips are getting torn up and the canker sores are driving her nuts. I thought I'd ask the collective intelligence here if there is anything she can do... any ideas?
posted by Scoops to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ambusol... had braces for 9 years... sigh.

And, if they are cutting her, it sounds like her braces need to be filed down a bit or adjusted. She needs to inform her Orthodontist of it.
posted by eatdonuts at 9:28 AM on June 23, 2006

Tell her to pick up some orthodontic wax to alleviate the pain from her canker sores.
posted by phoenixc at 9:28 AM on June 23, 2006

When I had braces I was given this spiral of waxy stuff that you could put on them to act as a sort of barrier. Maybe she should ask her dentist about that? This looks to be it. Eventually you lips just give up and learn to deal with it though.
posted by Orange Goblin at 9:28 AM on June 23, 2006

The wax, for sure. Her orthodontist should have given it to her.
posted by o2b at 9:28 AM on June 23, 2006

Tell her to go to her orthodontist and get some wax from him. When I was younger I had braces and if a bracket was bothering me, I covered it and made it smooth with a wax cap.

If you get the right kind it's much easier to remove than you might think.
posted by JakeLL at 9:29 AM on June 23, 2006

d'oh! Orthodontic wax... beaten to it!
posted by eatdonuts at 9:29 AM on June 23, 2006

If you can't find any orthodontic wax, those "wax bottles filled with sugar water" candy work as well.
posted by Lucinda at 9:33 AM on June 23, 2006

I suppose it's too late to opt for one of the modern alternatives (behind the teeth braces, retainers worn at night-only, etc)?

As a kid, I used the wax as others have pointed out. But mostly, I just got used to it after a few months.

And obviously, just call the orthodontist or, at the very least, talk about at the next check-up/tightening session.
posted by mullacc at 9:33 AM on June 23, 2006

Also, suggest to your friend to visit ArchWired. The site is an amazing resource for adults with braces, and the forum is full of helpful, supportive people who are all going through the same thing.
posted by cgg at 9:36 AM on June 23, 2006

I'm nearly three years in braces (though they are supposed to be coming off any week now...), and boy, do I remember the agony of those first weeks! I also swear by a combination of orthodontic wax (it's available at drugstores) and Anbusol (or any of the other mouth sore numbing gels). Tell her to use them as much as she feels like for the first few months; her mouth will start to get used to the worst of it, and after that, she'll only need to use the wax or gel periodically, when something shifts and a new spot in her mouth starts getting irritated.
posted by scody at 10:03 AM on June 23, 2006

Yep, 10th-ing the wax. And you do get used to it super fast. I got my braces on as an adult, and here's an OT tip from me. Immediately after each tightening, chew gum. Yes, they tell you not to, but adults are pretty capable of keeping the gum out of the brackets. Chew carefully, use non-stick gum, whatever. It helps immensely to relieve that achy, itchy, post-tightening feeling.
posted by peep at 10:11 AM on June 23, 2006

Switch to a gentler toothpaste. I use this and it does help stave off canker sores.

Also, don't be afraid to use the wax liberally, especially at bedtime. I used to get the worst scarring and damage at night, because I would suck my teeth in my sleep. Mornings with braces were a nightmare. Take preventive action!
posted by miagaille at 10:15 AM on June 23, 2006

This is a tough one. I had braces, only for 3 years as a child. I had similar issue where excessive canker sores and other problems (even in the later years). I removed the braces twice on my own, which I might add is not hard to do, at that point my parents did not pay to have them put back on. I had severe problems with cankers sores, getting more than 10, 20+ at a time and on one occasion had to have some surgically removed. Contrary to popular belief canker sores are not contagious and are not in any way related to herpes, they are very similar to stomach ulcers (so I have been told by my physician).
Later on in life I learned that I had a condition, problem, was prone to (whatever you want to call it) to get canker sores, especially after trauma to the mouth. I now take a steroid that helps the mouth heal quicker and also stay away from certain chemicals. I have been told that this can be common in women.
I would have her start with all the ideas that several people have suggested, if this does not help her, she may want to consult her ortho / physician to see if there are steroid options to make these canker sores and other traumas heal faster.
posted by lutzla23 at 10:49 AM on June 23, 2006

Wait six days. Seriously. That's it.
posted by mmdei at 11:37 AM on June 23, 2006

Another vote for wax; it isn't always possible to do much about the pointy corners on the brackets but the wax will help until the edges wear off a bit.

However, if there is one one bracket in particular that is causing a lot of irritation she should mention it to her orthodontist and get it replaced.

And if there's any bits of wire poking out at the back of her mouth her orthodontist can trim off the ends.

As to the little cuts and sores, they will most likely go away as her mouth gets used to the braces.

Finally, general jaw and/or facial pain will come and go depending on the frequency, and severity (although that's not quite the right word) of each tightening/adjustment. I always found that Tylenol or Advil worked really well to take the edge off, as well as warm drinks and food.
posted by melimelo at 11:50 AM on June 23, 2006

Six days is an eternity to wait when your mouth hurts that bad. Get the wax.
posted by agregoli at 11:50 AM on June 23, 2006


NOT the large ones that go from the top-->bottom teeth, but the small, individual ones that go around each individual brace. no one mentioned this yet?? it puts a rubber buffer around the sharp, metal edges.

Listen, wax sucks because it gets all gummy and pops off, and is a temporary solution. and sometimes you forget about it and eat a sandwich or something, and you start chewing on the wax caps. and it's pretty dirty and puts a bulge in your gum. i hated wax. and i always woke up in teh morning with the wax either swallowed or on my pillow.

when i wore braces in the 80s, the individual rubberbands were the coolest things ever, and people even got the flourescent ones or glow-in-the-dark ones so that everyone knew they were wearing rubber bands OVER their braces. the best part is that you looked totally cool, and also eased the sharp edges of the metal braces at the same time.

they come in clear so they are less noticeable. i totally recommend asking your orthodontist to put these on. they will make your gums and teeth sore for at least a day (the rubberband makes the braces less flexible and therefore less resistant to pressure), but in the long run, it will spare you applying ambesol and wax to your gums every 10 minutes.

the only downside is that the rubberbands look a bit gross, and make the braces appear bigger. but hey, you're wearing braces, there's no way around it, and people know it the minute you open your mouth. better to be comfortable and gross than miserable in pain, eh?
posted by naxosaxur at 12:23 PM on June 23, 2006

ice can be comforting too.
posted by beandip at 1:27 PM on June 23, 2006

Rubberbands?? Those are just part of the braces aren't they? She should already have those on. They keep the wire from popping out of the bracket.

Definitely watch out for the wire sticking out of the back. It sticks out farther as you approach your next appointment. Nothing worse than smiling and getting your cheek caught on that wire.

It will get better.
posted by clh at 1:34 PM on June 23, 2006

Also, here's the thing: braces just hurt. The first week is the worst, then your mouth habituates. But it's going to be tender for a day or so after each adjustment, too.
posted by Miko at 1:54 PM on June 23, 2006

L Lysine everyday. I used to get canker sores constantly, but regular L Lysine tablets have seemed to cure that. It's an amino acid and has an effect on how the body builds tissue, but I don't exactly know the mechanism by which it works. A dentist recommended it to me.
posted by lunalaguna at 2:17 PM on June 23, 2006

Don't they automatically put rubber bands on each individual brace? I had them, but that didn't stop my braces from cutting and poking me. Wax was a godsend.

And yeah, painkillers and soft foods like deviled ham and milkshakes. Not together. =)
posted by agregoli at 2:46 PM on June 23, 2006

While you're waiting to get the wax, use kleenex. Seriously. Roll it up and put it between the braces and your lips. Ahhh. A little temporary pain relief.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:12 PM on June 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yes, clh and agregoli, you are correct. The rubberbands are the only thing holding the wire to the brackets.
posted by peep at 4:26 PM on June 23, 2006

yes, of course. but i recall asking my orthodontist if he could double-up the rubberbands for more relief, or using thicker ones, which he did.

maybe he/she can ask the dentist for more durable and thicker rubberbands to replace the thiner ones that are on now?
posted by naxosaxur at 8:07 AM on June 26, 2006

The brackets were never what cut me, so I can't imagine having thicker rubber bands on them would have made any difference at all. Your mileage may vary.
posted by agregoli at 10:39 AM on June 26, 2006

I just suffered through it for a couple months and came out of it with super-strong-mucus-membranes! Wax is for pussies... but seriously, I found it more cumbersome than helpful.

Can't anyone take a little pain these days?
posted by sunshinesky at 5:45 PM on July 3, 2006

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