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Orthodontic treatment with metal braces is a common and effective method for correcting misaligned teeth and achieving a healthy, straight smile. However, a frequent concern among potential patients, especially those who have never worn braces before, is whether metal braces are painful. Let’s explore this concern in detail, exploring the nature and extent of discomfort associated with metal braces, what causes it, and how to manage and mitigate it.

Initial Discomfort After Getting Braces

When braces are first applied, most patients experience a period of discomfort as their mouth adapts to the new presence of brackets and wires. This initial phase typically lasts for about a week and can include several sensations:

Are metal braces painful - Moray OrthodonticsPressure and Tightness

When metal braces are first applied, one of the most common sensations you may experience is a feeling of pressure or tightness. This occurs because the archwires connected to the brackets are designed to apply continuous, gentle pressure to your teeth. This pressure is necessary to gradually move your teeth into their desired positions. The tightness you feel is a clear indication that the braces are beginning to work, aligning your teeth and correcting your bite. Although this sensation can be uncomfortable, it typically subsides within a few days as your teeth start to adjust to the new forces. To manage this initial discomfort, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers and eat soft foods that do not add additional pressure to your teeth.


Soreness is another common experience when you first get metal braces or after each adjustment. The sensation can be compared to the mild soreness felt after a dental cleaning but is usually more intense and persistent. This soreness occurs because your teeth and gums are not accustomed to the new pressure being applied by the braces. The ligaments and tissues around your teeth are responding to the shifting movements, which can cause tenderness and sensitivity. The soreness is typically most noticeable for the first few days following the placement or adjustment of the braces. To alleviate this soreness, you can rinse your mouth with warm saltwater, use orthodontic wax to cover sharp edges, and stick to a diet of soft foods such as soups, mashed potatoes, and smoothies.


The brackets and wires of metal braces can rub against the inside of your cheeks and lips, causing irritation or small sores. This is especially common in the first few weeks as your mouth adjusts to the new hardware. The constant friction can create areas of tenderness and even small ulcers, which can be quite painful. This irritation is a normal part of the adjustment period and tends to decrease as the tissues inside your mouth become tougher and more accustomed to the braces. To manage irritation, orthodontic wax can be applied to the brackets and wires to create a smooth surface that reduces friction. Additionally, maintaining good oral hygiene is important to prevent infections in any sores that do develop, and using a mouth rinse can help keep the mouth clean and promote healing.

Managing Initial Discomfort

To manage the initial discomfort, consider the following tips:

Are metal braces painful - Moray OrthodonticsOver-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can effectively alleviate pain and reduce inflammation caused by new braces or adjustments. These pain relievers work by blocking pain signals and reducing swelling, helping you feel more comfortable during the initial period of wearing braces or after an orthodontic adjustment.

Orthodontic Wax

Applying orthodontic wax to the brackets can significantly minimise irritation by creating a smooth barrier between the braces and the soft tissues in your mouth. This protective layer prevents brackets and wires from rubbing against the inside of your cheeks and lips, reducing the likelihood of developing sores and discomfort.

Soft Foods

Opting for soft foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, and smoothies during the first few days after getting braces can help prevent additional pressure on your teeth. These foods are gentle on your sore gums and teeth, allowing you to eat comfortably without exacerbating pain or discomfort from the newly applied braces.

Saltwater Rinse

Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater can provide relief by soothing irritated gums and promoting the healing of any sores. The saltwater helps to cleanse the mouth, reduce inflammation, and prevent infection, making it an effective and natural way to manage discomfort associated with braces.

Discomfort During Adjustments

Orthodontic treatment with metal braces requires periodic adjustments, typically every 4-6 weeks. During these appointments, the orthodontist may tighten the archwires or replace ligatures to continue guiding the teeth into their proper positions. These adjustments can cause temporary discomfort as the teeth respond to the new pressure.

Common Experiences During Adjustments

  • Pressure and Soreness: Similar to the initial placement of braces, adjustments can lead to feelings of pressure and soreness in the teeth and gums.
  • Short-Term Pain: The discomfort after adjustments usually peaks within the first 24-48 hours and gradually subsides.

Tips for Managing Discomfort After Adjustments

  • Pain Relief: Again, over-the-counter pain relievers can be effective in managing post-adjustment discomfort.
  • Soft Diet: Opt for soft foods for a day or two following adjustments to minimise pressure on your teeth.
  • Good Oral Hygiene: Maintaining good oral hygiene can help prevent additional discomfort caused by plaque buildup or food particles trapped around the braces.

Long-Term Discomfort and Adaptation

As treatment progresses, most patients find that the initial and adjustment-related discomfort diminishes significantly. The mouth gradually adapts to the braces, and any ongoing discomfort tends to be less intense and more manageable.

Potential Sources of Long-Term Discomfort

  • Cheek and Lip Irritation: While the mouth typically adjusts to the brackets, some irritation can persist, especially during activities like talking or eating.
  • Changes in Bite: As the teeth shift, changes in the bite can cause temporary discomfort as your jaw adjusts to the new alignment.

Orthodontic wax - Are metal braces painful - Moray OrthodonticsStrategies for Long-Term Comfort

  • Orthodontic Wax: Continue using orthodontic wax as needed to alleviate any persistent irritation.
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated helps keep the tissues in your mouth moist and less prone to irritation.
  • Regular Orthodontic Checkups: Regular visits to our orthodontist ensure that any issues causing discomfort are addressed promptly.

Psychological Aspects of Wearing Braces

Discomfort with metal braces isn’t just physical; there can also be psychological challenges. These might include self-consciousness about appearance, frustration with dietary restrictions, or the inconvenience of oral hygiene routines. Below are some effective coping strategies:

  • Focus on the Outcome: Remind yourself of the long-term benefits of wearing braces, such as improved dental health and a better smile. Focusing on the end results can help you stay motivated and endure any temporary discomfort, knowing that straighter teeth will enhance your appearance, boost your confidence, and contribute to better oral health overall.
  • Support System: Talk to friends or family members who have had braces. Their experiences and advice can be reassuring and provide practical tips for managing discomfort. They can offer empathy, share coping strategies, and help you feel less isolated during your orthodontic journey, making the process more manageable and less daunting.
  • Orthodontic Apps and Communities: There are many online communities and apps where you can share your journey and gain support from others undergoing similar treatment. These platforms allow you to exchange experiences, ask questions, and receive encouragement, helping you feel connected and supported. Engaging with a community of peers can provide valuable insights and emotional support throughout your treatment.

Sara ALWhy Choose Moray Orthodontics for Metal Braces?

Choosing Moray Orthodontics for metal braces ensures you receive top-quality care and expertise in a welcoming environment. Our team of skilled orthodontists is dedicated to creating personalised treatment plans that cater to your unique dental needs, ensuring optimal results. We use the latest technology and techniques to provide efficient and effective orthodontic treatment.

We offer competitive pricing, with metal braces starting at just £1,950 per arch, making our services accessible and affordable. At Moray Orthodontics, we prioritise patient comfort and satisfaction, guiding you through every step of your orthodontic journey with professionalism and care.

What Our Patients Are Saying

Norman Browne
Norman Browne
First class treatment
Jacob James Sutherland
Jacob James Sutherland
About a year into my treatment, very pleased with everything. Very polite and helpful staff. looking forward to seeing my teeth when my braces come off.

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