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If you’re worried that your braces don’t hurt (when everyone warned you they will), then you’re probably in one of these two scenarios: you either got braces for the first time or you’ve had braces for a while but they’ve stopped hurting.
So what does it mean when the dreaded pain caused by braces isn’t hitting quite as you expected? Do your braces still work? We’re going to answer all this and more in this article.
Is it normal for braces not to hurt?
Most patients that are just getting started with braces can expect to feel some pain anywhere from 2 to 36 hours after getting their braces on. The degree of pain and discomfort they feel (or don’t feel), however, depends on a lot of things:
Let’s examine these factors one by one:
People with straight teeth will experience significantly less pain with braces compared to people with crooked teeth. This is because the first thing braces do is straighten teeth. If you’re not feeling pain, it might be because the wire isn’t putting as much pressure on your teeth.
When bonding braces, many orthodontists like to start with super light and thin wires that only apply gentle pressure. Pain is typically caused by stiffer wires that force the tissue surrounding teeth. Using very light wires is a great way to get the patients accustomed to their braces, but the downside is that these wires aren’t as potent as the next size up.
Another reason why some people don’t feel pain after getting braces is because they didn’t receive the full set of braces. Some doctors may not bond both arches at the same time, either because of time constraints or just preference. So if your teeth don’t hurt, it might be because you only got top or bottom braces recently. Once you get the other side bonded, you might have a different experience.
If it’s been at least 24 hours since getting your braces on or getting them tightened and you’re not feeling any pain, consider how sensitive you are to pain in general. I’ve had patients with vastly different responses to pain, and even patients who’ve felt pain for the entire duration of orthodontic treatment.
If your teeth don’t hurt, do you still feel pressure? Maybe it only hurts when you chew, that still counts as pain. Also, has it been 36 hours or more since getting your braces? If not, you can still experience some pain later in the week, especially at night, as your teeth adjust.
But if you’re not feeling any pain at all and it’s been days in braces, then consider yourself among the lucky ones. I can assure you that your braces are still working, despite your body not registering the difference.
And lastly, perhaps it’s not your first week in braces and you’ve had them on for quite a while. If your braces have stopped hurting, it doesn’t mean that they’ve stopped working. And even if active tooth movement has slowed down or even stopped, we actually need these rest periods in between appointments.
Rest periods during orthodontic treatment are when new bone is being created and gum tissue is being repaired after all that stretching. So you should have alternate periods of tension and rest.
Do braces sometimes not work?
If you’re asking this question, then you’re probably worried that your braces don’t feel tight enough. Have you been to a tightening appointment recently but don’t feel any pain? If you’ve been in braces for a while and your teeth have stopped hurting, it’s absolutely normal.
In fact, it would be quite traumatic and dangerous if your teeth were subjected to high forces at all times.
“I feel like my orthodontist isn’t tightening my braces enough.” This is a question I see all the time, and it makes sense to ask yourself this. But here’s the truth: “tightening” is just a term for activating braces. They’re not actually supposed to feel tight, not all the time.
So if your orthodontist is more gentle and uses lighter wires, or if you have self-ligating braces, you might not experience the tightness you felt right at the start.
However, aside from these tasks, there are a lot of things your orthodontist might focus on during your appointments:
- making subtle adjustments and repositioning your brackets
- making detailing bends
- simply changing the elastic ties
- allowing your teeth to take breaks from power chains and elastics
Remember, not every appointment is a wire change, and we don’t want teeth to move all the time.
It’s also worth mentioning that your teeth may already be loose within the bone, which happens to most patients mid-treatment. As a result, you may no longer experience pain after your appointments because teeth are easier to move.
How do I know if my braces are working
Let’s talk about how you can tell if your braces are working. The most dramatic changes in your teeth and bite will happen in the first six months of treatment, especially if you have crooked teeth that need straightening. After that, it’s mostly a matter of closing gaps and fine-tuning your bite, which sounds simple but takes a lot of time.
During the detailing stage of braces, which is the final stage of treatment, you might not notice a significant difference in your teeth. This is because the orthodontist is focusing on small adjustments to ensure that your teeth are perfectly aligned and your bite is correct.
One way to track your progress is to take pictures of your teeth and bite every month. This will allow you to notice subtle differences over time and see how far you’ve come since the beginning of treatment. It can be easy to forget how your teeth looked before braces, so having visual evidence of your progress can be motivating and reassuring.
In conclusion, it’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with braces is different. While some patients may experience significant pain and discomfort, others may not feel much at all. If you’re not experiencing the pain that others have warned you about, consider yourself lucky!
And if you feel like your braces aren’t working as they should, voice your concerns to your orthodontist. But keep in mind, rest periods are good, and not seeing visible changes toward the end of treatment is normal. It’s important to trust the process – you’ll get your dream smile soon.
Whether you’re new to braces or a braces veteran, taking care of your teeth (and your health) during orthodontic treatment is crucial. That’s why I’ve put together a list of orthodontist-recommended tools that will make caring for your braces a breeze: