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How to Stop Gum Pain When You Have Braces

girl with braces eating a popcicle

If you recently had braces put on or tightened, you may have experienced some increased gum sensitivity.  Unfortunately, gum pain is relatively common for those who wear braces.  While uncomfortable, there’s no need to be alarmed or worried if you start to notice a little bit of swelling and discomfort while wearing your braces.

Most patients say that pain comes as a result of wearing traditional metal braces, but clear aligners like Invisalign can also cause a little bit of discomfort. Remember, braces of any kind are pushing and pulling on your teeth, so wearing them doesn’t feel like a day at the spa, over time you should notice their presence less and less.

To combat the pain associated with braces we’ve compiled a helpful list of techniques you can employ to feel better quicker.

Topical Oral Anesthetics

A good short-term option for reducing gum pain while wearing braces is using an oral anesthetic gel.  These gels contain benzocaine.  Benzocaine is a topical anesthetic that can be applied to your gums to numb them for a short time.  Products such as Orajel are inexpensive and can be found in most pharmacies.  Simply apply a little bit of the gel with a cotton swab, and let it take effect.

Your dentist can assist you in picking out a product that will work best for your particular case.

Over the Counter Pain Medications

This may seem like a no-brainer, but taking over the counter medications that reduce pain and inflammation can go a long way in curbing the discomfort caused by braces.  Over the counter medications can also be taken before a procedure (like tightening) to reduce the feeling of pain and pressure.  These medications are safe for both children and adults and can be taken on an as-needed basis.

Salt Water

A common soother for oral pain like a sore throat, cold sores, and cuts is warm salt water.  The same applies to swollen gums.  Mix one teaspoon of salt into eight ounces of warm water and rinse (swish and spit) for about 30 seconds.  You can repeat this process 2-3 times a day until the swelling subsides.  Make sure that the water is a comfortable temperature, as you want to avoid scorching your already sore mouth.


glass of water

If warm salt water isn’t helping, you may consider using cool liquids or ice packs.  Not only does applying a cold compress or drinking chilled water reduce swelling, but it can also help numb your gums and give your teeth time to get used to the pressure that’s being applied to them.  If you experience temperature sensitivity, contact your dentist to determine the best way to address that issue.

Consider Your Diet

If you have traditional wire braces, your dentist has probably already outlined the kinds of food you should avoid to keep from damaging your braces.  Keep away from sticky, crunchy, or gummy foods that can stick to the metal of your orthodontic appliances.  The last thing you want to do is cause an infection or irritate your already sore gums with sugar or chip shards.  This tip even applies to individuals who opt for clear aligners.

Stick to softer foods like potatoes, soup, or smoothies to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your teeth as they begin to shift into position.

Orthodontic Wax

After you have your braces put on, your orthodontist is likely to give you orthodontic wax.  This special non-toxic wax is designed to be molded over areas of your braces that might be causing you pain.  Simply take a piece of the wax and mold it over the offending area and to protect your gums, lips, and cheeks from getting snagged or cut by your braces.

You can remove it when you perform your normal oral hygiene routine and reapply it after.

A Soothing Massage

Who doesn’t like a relaxing massage?  While having your braces put on or tightened isn’t exactly like a spa day, your gums may benefit from a gentle massage. Simply apply pressure with one of your fingers and rub the sore area of your gums in a circular motion to relieve the pain.

Better Dental Hygiene

We know, we know.  As your dentist, we have to tell you to floss more.  But in all honesty, having a healthy oral hygiene routine goes a long way in making sure that your teeth and mouth stay healthy.  This fact is even truer when it comes to braces.

If your gums are sore while wearing braces, use a soft toothbrush, and make sure that you’re taking special care to clean the brackets where food may get stuck.  Floss and use mouthwash to keep your braces sparkling clean, and your smile healthy.

When Should You Call the Dentist?

The tips above should go a long way in helping you combat gum soreness while wearing braces, but no one method will work for everyone.  In the event that your gum pain becomes persistent, you notice extreme swelling, or excessive blood call your oral health specialist to consult.

Our Team

Dr. Parris and his team have been treating patients in the greater Memphis area for many years.  Their expertise combined with their passion for helping you be confident and comfortable is sure to bring a smile to your face!

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Posted by Bill Parris at 3:10 PM
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