Are Braces Painful? The Truth About Wearing Braces
April 10, 2023

If we asked you to name five dental procedures, chances are that you would mention braces. 3 million teenagers in the United States and Canada have braces. The number of adults with braces is significant and growing.

Are braces painful? People often ask this question when their orthodontists bring up braces. The answer is complicated. Braces do hurt for up to a few days after placement. They also might hurt during tightening or other adjustments.

Everybody has a different experience with braces. We can’t tell you much about what your individual process will look like. What we can do is give a general outline of the process and list some common effects.


Discussing any pain from braces gets easier if you break the process down into steps. The first step of the process is placing the braces. 

People often describe getting braces places as uncomfortable, but not painful. Orthodontists don’t place braces on a whim. They plan the whole process so everything is as easy as possible.

Before placing braces, orthodontists may give you spacers. These spacers push teeth apart so the braces fit in later. Spacers often do hurt, but they’ll save you pain down the line.

Wearing Braces

In the hours following the placement, your teeth might ache. This pain shouldn’t last more than a week. It’s a small price to pay for the benefits of straight teeth

You can do a few things to make sure the pain stays at a minimum. Don’t touch your braces with your tongue. You could end up cutting your tongue, and that hurts a bit.


It takes time to straighten teeth. Straightening teeth all at once is impractical. That much pressure could damage teeth. The process would also hurt a lot more.

Teeth respond to the pressure of braces by changing position. When this happens, orthodontists must tighten the braces. That lets the teeth change even more. 

Little by little, these adjustments lead to a healthy smile. You’ll need brace tightening. Expect an appointment every three to six weeks.


If you aren’t fond of braces, look into Invisalign. Invisalign and similar products straighten teeth without being noticeable. These products emerged in 1997 and have attracted a large following in the years since.

You shouldn’t use Invisalign if you have severe dental problems. Only teens and adults can use Invisalign.

Those who don’t want braces because of the stigma attached should get Invisalign. Orthodontists created Invisalign and other invisible braces for this reason.

Lingual Braces

You should also look into lingual braces. Invented in the 1970s, by Dr. Craven Kurz, lingual braces align teeth from inside the jaw so they’re harder to notice. Kurz came up with the idea after hearing about a woman who needed straight teeth. However, she could lose her job if she had braces.

Kurz wasn’t the only pioneer in the field. Half a world away, at Kanagawa Dental University in Japan, a professor named Kinya Fujita envisioned something similar. Kinya’s concern went beyond aesthetics.

Athletes were part of his motivation. Athletes needed to keep their teeth aligned without being vulnerable to damage. Lingual braces fit the bill.

Removal of Braces

Most people who get braces have them for less than three years. The removal of braces, much like their placement, doesn’t hurt. Getting the braces taken off isn’t the end of the process.

Many people have to wear a retainer after getting braces taken off. Retainers keep your teeth in place. This ensures that your teeth don’t become crooked again without the braces. 

Most dentists recommend keeping the retainer in for all or most of the day at first. After a year, you might not need the retainer. If you do still need the retainer, you won’t need it all day. Wearing it while you sleep should be enough.

Managing Pain

When you are experiencing pain, you have plenty of options for pain relief. Sticking to cold drinks and food minimizes pain, as do soft foods. Over-the-counter pain medications like aspirin can help. Ice packs work well, too.

Your orthodontist should have a special wax rub that protects your cheeks from cuts. Consult your orthodontist if you have significant pain in or around your braces. You should also contact them if your braces become detached or break.

Dental Care

The best thing you can do to make the process of wearing braces as easy as possible is to take care of your teeth. Regular brushing keeps your teeth healthy and prevents issues. 

Make sure you floss. Flossing is harder with braces but still possible. You’ll just need to string your floss behind the braces. We also suggest using mouthwash every night. Both stop the build-up of bacteria and other harmful things.

Keeping your teeth clean is vital because tooth decay can affect how braces fit.

Are Braces Painful?: A Guide

Are braces painful? Many people ask that question when an orthodontist mentions braces.

Wearing braces doesn’t hurt most of the time. You will experience some pain during preparation. Your teeth might ache for a few days after getting braces. Neglecting your teeth can cause serious issues, so you should take good care of them. 

You can learn more about braces by reading our blog. If you or someone you know needs braces, reach out to us at Carolina Braces. Read up on who we are and how we operate if you’d prefer to learn more before committing to anything.