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At-Home Care for Orthodontic Soreness

When braces are first applied, it can take several days to get used to the new appliances. During this time, the mouth may feel tender or sore. While soreness is rarely problematic enough to warrant additional dental care, contact your orthodontist if soreness becomes highly uncomfortable.

Causes of Orthodontic Soreness

When braces are initially applied or the archwire is changed during an orthodontic adjustment appointment, teeth start to gradually shift toward their new destination. This initial movement causes adjacent tissue to become inflamed. This inflammation causes fibers that join the teeth to the jawbone and gums (periodontal ligaments) to swell. The swelling in turn leads to compressed nerve fibers, which are the true cause of orthodontic soreness.

What Can Be Done to Ease Soreness?

It is important to remember that orthodontic discomfort generally decreases within a few days. After the initial affixation of braces, it can take between one and two weeks for the tissues of the tongue, cheek and lips to adapt to the new orthodontic device. There are several home remedies, however, that will help ease initial discomfort:

Wax Application

Orthodontic relief wax is usually provided at your appointment and can be applied to the braces as required. If the soreness is being caused by braces rubbing on the cheek, lip or tongue, the wax provides a smooth, effective buffer between the two. Roll a pea-sized amount of wax into a ball and place it the protruding and bothersome part of the appliance. Press the wax into place to efficiently cover any irritating wires.

Salt Water Rinses

Warm salty water is an excellent remedy for sore lips, gums and cheeks. The salt water mixture actually extracts excess fluid in inflamed tissue by way of osmosis, alleviating pressure on the nerves and easing soreness. To utilize this remedy, add a teaspoon of salt to around half a cup of lukewarm water. Swish the water around the mouth without gargling for one minute before spitting it out.

Chewing on Soft Foods

To further ensure comfort, you can also chewing on soft foods that won’t damage your braces. Apple and cheese slices work nicely, as do small celery slices. The chewing action compresses the fibers that fix the teeth and gums together (periodontal ligaments), thus pumping out the fluid accumulation that causes soreness.

Eat Berries

Not only do berries contain high levels of antioxidants, they can also substantially reduce intraoral swelling. Cherries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries all contain natural anti-inflammatory properties which reduce soreness. Cherries are preferable because they are soft enough not to damage the braces and do not contain small seeds which tend to stick between the braces.

Pain Medication

While it is unlikely that orthodontic soreness will warrant over-the-counter pain medications, some patients choose to alleviate soreness this way.

If you have any questions or concerns about orthodontic soreness, please contact your oral health provider.

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I just had to write to say how appreciative I am of Dr. Tsui. If you are looking for a dentist, look no further. She is kind, caring and does an amazing job. She makes sure there is no pain and does each job to perfection. I recently had a dental emergency and she was there in no time. On top of all of that, her office is like a spa with water falls and fountains. They have the glasses for you to watch a movie, which are a great distraction. The staff is stellar!!! The nicest staff of people I have ever meet, so professional and personable at the same time. I recommend Dr. Tsui to all my friends, I can't say enough wonderful things about her and her amazing staff.

Ashley F. (Patient gave permission for publication).

I've been a patient of Dr. Tsui's since Smile Creations first opened their doors in 2003. My parents and younger sister see Dr. Tsui as well, and all of us are pleased with the services we've received. My parents have received major work (crowns) and all of us have had cleanings, exams, and fillings done. Dr. Tsui's office is equipped with the latest technologies--digital x-rays, an intraoral camera, and video glasses so you can watch movies as you receive dental work. My parents have recently had more crowns done and in just one visit, Dr. Tsui completed the crown prep work on my parents and they waited in the office while the actual permanent crown was being made right in the office! I've never heard of other dental practices with this technology! My parents didn't need a temporary crown and they didn't need a second visit where crowns are typically sent to labs which can take 2 weeks on average. A call from Dr. Tsui's office is made the next day to check on the healing process and to answer any questions. My parents are quick to point out what a stellar job Dr. Tsui does when it comes to giving anesthetic injections. A numbing topical is applied first, and after a few minutes, Dr. Tsui will carefully and skillfully proceed with the injection into the cheek and gums. She talks you through the whole way so you know what's going on. I have a low pain tolerance and hate needles so she definitely eases my fears through her gentleness and I walk away thinking that the injection hurt less than expected! Dr. Tsui works with a range of patients from the elderly to adolescents. The bi-lingual (English and Chinese) speaking staff including Dr. Tsui herself, allows her to relate and work with multiple generations of people. I have only positive kudos and express my sincere thanks for the gentle and professional dental work that my family and I have received from Dr. Tsui and her staff. I would highly recommend Dr. Tsui for any and all dental care needs.

Andrea W.(Patient gave permission for publication).

Dear Dr. Tsui,

I want to thank you again for all of the great dental care you have provided to me over the years. As you know, I was referred to you years ago by my friend and former co-worker. She raved about how great you and your staff are. I started going to you for dental care about 6 or 7 years ago. 2 of those years, I was forced to change my dental insurance coverage and had to find a different dentist. I went to 2 or 3 different offices trying to find a good patient/doctor relationship....and, frankly, never did. When I went back to an insurer that included you in the network, I was so happy that I could continue my dental care with you.

As you know, I have had the need for 2 crowns recently. Although I can't say I enjoyed the experience, I can say that you and your staff made it as pleasant as possible and I have great confidence in the work that you do. You and your staff have consisently practiced thoroughness, attention to detail and excellent communication (before, during and after procedures). It is very obvious that you truly care about your patients' dental health and their comfort when having their teeth worked on. That makes such a big difference in patient care and I greatly appreciate it! I am happy with the work that you have done for my crowns and I will continue to go to you for any future work that may be needed.

Smile Creations is a wonderful dental care practice! Now, I am the one raving about you and your staff and I have encouraged numerous people to go to you for dental work. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Cathy D.(Patient gave permission for publication).

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