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If you’re currently wearing braces, you may have noticed that your lips are feeling a bit dry and chapped. This is a common side effect of braces, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent one.
Braces can cause dry, chapped lips due to dehydration, smoking, certain foods and drinks, hypersalivation, mouth breathing, allergies, and health issues. To prevent dry lips while wearing braces, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids, practice nose breathing, use a humidifier, and apply lip balm.
In this article, we’ll go over the causes of dry lips during braces, whether or not your lips will actually get bigger while you’re wearing braces, and how you can fix the dryness and chapping.
What Causes Dry Lips During Braces?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to dryness and chapping of the lips while wearing braces. Here are a few common causes:
Eating and drinking less due to pain: If you’re experiencing pain and discomfort from your braces, you may be eating and drinking less than you normally would. This can lead to dehydration and dry lips.
Smoking: Smoking can contribute to dryness and chapping of the lips by decreasing the production of saliva. As a bonus, smoking will cause bad breath and stain your teeth, so if you can, try to quit for the duration of orthodontic treatment.
Eating certain salty/spicy foods, and drinking caffeine and alcohol: These types of foods and drinks are very dehydrating and can cause dry lips even without the added factor of braces, so make sure to take it easy on junk food, alcohol, and caffeine stimulants.
Hypersalivation: Most people who wear braces will experience an increase in saliva production for the first few weeks. This is because the body perceives braces as a foreign object. The worse thing you can do at this time is to lick your lips and dry them out, so try to sip on an iced drink instead.
Mouth breathing: If you find yourself breathing through your mouth more often while wearing braces, this can lead to dryness of the lips. If you’ve always been a mouth breather, it can cause serious issues such as cavities, sleep disorders, and even crowded teeth.
Cold weather: Cold weather can also contribute to dryness of the lips. When the air is dry and cold, it can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and chapping. Combine cold air with mouth breathing and you’ve got a sure recipe for cracked lips.
Nickel allergy: If you have an allergy to nickel, resin, or latex (all of which are commonly used in braces), this can cause lip desquamation (peeling). It’s important to make sure you’re not allergic to any of these substances before starting braces treatment.
Health issues that cause xerostomia: Xerostomia is a condition in which the mouth produces insufficient saliva, leading to lip chapping among other problems. This can be caused by a number of health issues, including certain medications, radiation therapy, and autoimmune diseases.
Will Your Lips Get Bigger While Wearing Braces?
It’s possible that your lips may appear swollen or protrude slightly while you’re wearing braces, but this is not a permanent change (although some of you may find this exciting). There are a few factors that can contribute to this appearance:
Lip swelling: Swelling of the lips is a common side effect of braces, and it can be caused by a variety of factors, including irritation from the braces themselves, mouth sores, and allergies to the materials used in the braces.
Mouth sores: Mouth sores (also known as canker sores) can occur while wearing braces due to irritation from the braces, a deficiency in certain nutrients, immunodeficiency, or stress. These sores can cause the lips to appear swollen and irritated. Here’s a natural option to find some relief.
Lip protrusion: In some cases, the position of the teeth and the size of the braces may cause the lips to appear slightly more protruded. This is usually not a permanent change, and it should resolve itself once the misalignment is corrected and the braces are removed.
If you’re experiencing mouth sores and swelling from your braces, using a numbing agent like Orajel can help to provide temporary relief. Simply apply a small amount of Orajel to the affected area as directed, and it should help to numb the area and reduce pain.
Orthodontic silicone is another useful tool for addressing discomfort from braces, and it’s more powerful than simple wax. This silicone can be applied to the brackets or wires of the braces to create a smooth, protective barrier between the braces and the lips, helping to reduce irritation and chapping.
How to Fix Dry, Chapped Lips Caused by Braces
If you’re experiencing dry, chapped lips while wearing braces, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the problem:
Hydrate: Aim to drink at least 64 ounces or 8 cups of water per day, or increase your water intake if you’re already drinking the recommended amount. Sucking on ice chips also helps, but avoid chewing them so you don’t cause damage to your braces.
Practice nose breathing: Mouth breathing is probably the biggest cause of dry lips, even in people who don’t wear braces. To help prevent this, try to breathe through your nose as much as possible. If you find it difficult to breathe through your nose, you may want to try using a humidifier or visit an ENT doctor to make sure you’re in good health.
Use a humidifier: Using a humidifier can help to add moisture to the air, breathe better at night and keep your lips hydrated. 50 to 60% humidity levels are ideal to prevent dry lips and keep you comfortable.
Cover your mouth when it’s cold: When you’re outside in the cold, be sure to cover your lips with a scarf, buff, or other protective clothing. Your metal braces will most likely feel cold during winter, so this habit will protect your teeth from cold sensitivity as well.
Use lip exfoliation: Exfoliating your lips can help to remove dead skin cells and promote the production of new, healthy skin cells. There are a few ways you can exfoliate your lips, such as using a mixture of sugar and oil (like coconut oil or olive oil) or using a lip scrub. Just be sure to be gentle and avoid using a harsh exfoliant. Also, avoid picking or biting the dead skin on your lips.
Use lip balm: Applying lip balm regularly throughout the day can help to keep your lips moisturized and prevent dryness and chapping. When choosing a lip balm, look for one that contains ingredients like beeswax, shea butter, or cocoa butter, which can help to lock in moisture and protect the lips from further damage. Avoid lip balms that contain fragrances or artificial dyes.
Use a dry mouth spray: Dry mouth spray can help alleviate dry lips while wearing braces by increasing saliva production. Brands like Biotene, Oasis, and XyliDENT use ingredients like xylitol and aloe vera to stimulate saliva and hydrate the mouth and lips. To use dry mouth spray, shake the bottle and spray a small amount onto your tongue and inside of your mouth as needed. Remember that dry mouth spray is not a replacement for proper hydration and should be used in conjunction with other moisturizing products, like lip balm.
Dry, chapped lips during braces treatment are usually temporary and nothing to worry about. To prevent chapped lips, stay hydrated, eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking and try not to breathe through your mouth or lick your lips.
Be aware of any allergies you may have to the components of your braces, such as nickel, resin, or latex – these can go unnoticed for quite a while. Xerostomia (dry mouth) can also cause chapped lips and should be addressed by your orthodontist or healthcare professional. Dry lips can be managed with the right care, and hopefully, these tips will help!
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: