Skip to main content

Do Braces Hurt? A Personal Step-by-Step Account of What to Expect

Just a few weeks ago my 12-year-old daughter got braces. This is what her experience was like.

Here's how you will look after all the brackets have been put on your teeth.

Here's how you will look after all the brackets have been put on your teeth.

Just a few weeks ago my 12-year-old daughter got braces. Like most people, she was pretty nervous about what to expect. Naturally, on the top of the list was whether getting them put on would hurt and how she would feel afterward. Of course, I was there through the entire process, from beginning to end . . . with my camera, much to her horror, I must add. So, let me walk you through the process to give you some insight into how it feels and what you can expect each step of the way.

The mouthpiece with suction tubes

The mouthpiece with suction tubes

The Process of Getting the Braces On

You will be surprised by how quickly the whole process goes. I thought it would take most of the morning, but I was pleasantly surprised that we were there for less than two hours. So, the good news is that the discomfort of the procedure itself will be brief.

The first phase involves getting the right size bands to fit your teeth. The bands are metal rings and are cemented onto your molars for anchorage and strength. Basically, this will involve some trial and error and a lot of time with fingers in your mouth. If you have a hyper gag reflex, you could find this part a little uncomfortable. My daughter was just fine, however.

You will have a rather large mouthpiece placed on the inside of the sides of your lips to keep your mouth open. And, no it doesn't hurt, but it just feels (and looks) a bit strange. They will also use suction tubes to keep your mouth dry.

Next, they will begin the process of putting the brackets on the teeth. They will begin with the bottom teeth if they are doing both upper and lower teeth. First, they have to apply the glue to your teeth. It's a two-part adhesive that needs to be cured after the brackets are put in place. First, they'll put the adhesive on your teeth, then they will carefully position the brackets on each individual tooth. It's super fast! There is no pain involved at all, BUT the adhesive doesn't taste very good. Don't worry, they do a good job of rinsing out your mouth and suctioning away the bad taste. Plus, you will have a chance to rinse out your mouth.

Finally, they will "cure" the adhesive with their blue light. Most orthodontists don't use UV lights anymore, but rather a blue led light. The led lights don't have the potential to get hot like the UV lights do. So, there shouldn't be any discomfort from the curing process. However, my daughter did say that she felt a little gum sensitivity during the curing, but the orthodontist said it was most likely from the adhesive itself.

You're Almost Done!

Alright, now you're rounding the corner. At this point, all the brackets are on your teeth. Next, you will be getting the wire, more commonly referred to as the "archwire." The archwire is attached to the brackets . . . it's a very simple process. The job of the wire is to provide the force necessary to move your teeth. It can be viewed as a track along which your teeth move. It's continually changed throughout your orthodontic treatment as your teeth continually move. It's fed through the brackets and cut at the ends. No pain involved, I promise!

Your last leg of this journey is the elastic ligatures. This is the fun part. It's where they add a bit of color to your otherwise steel-looking mouth. Before they begin, you will be able to choose from a variety of colors. Click on the thumbnail above to give you an idea of the wide variety of shades from which to choose.

I was certain the elastic ligatures would take a while, but I barely got a snap a picture before they were all on!

Wax to protect your mouth from the brackets.

Wax to protect your mouth from the brackets.

How Bad Is the Pain Afterwards?

You will feel fine for the first couple or so hours after getting your braces. But, as the day goes by you will begin to feel some soreness, not only from the force being exerted on your teeth, but also from the brackets rubbing up against the underside of your lips and inside your cheeks. It's a good idea to take some Tylenol or Ibuprofen at this point. You may even want to take some when you leave the orthodontist's office.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Patientslounge

You will also be given some wax to lodge over the brackets to protect your mouth. Use it! It really helps.

We found popsicles to be a godsend for the pain. The cooling and numbing effect of this delicious treat was just what the doctor ordered. As she got closer to bedtime, she wanted to put some ice on her cheeks to dull the pain. We used our handy bag of frozen peas for this and it felt really good to her.

The pain continued for the next couple of days. The next day was the worst as her mouth became more and more irritated by the brackets. She brought her wax with her to school, so I recommend having that on hand as much as possible.

By day three she was much better. So, the good news is whatever pain you must endure is brief. You will experience a bit more pain with each tightening of the wires, too. But, it's not like the initial discomfort from getting your braces on.

Good luck with your braces, and here's to a beautiful, straight smile!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Elsie Nelson (author) from Pacific Northwest, USA on September 18, 2016:

McHobbit-- to be clear, my daughter's braces were wayyyy more than just a cosmetic move. One of her eye teeth was coming in HORIZONTALLY and coming out the backside of her upper gum area. Braces weren't a vanity choice-- but a medically necessary procedure. She had to have oral surgery to attach a chain to this eye tooth first. The purpose of the braces was to allow this tooth to become functional and to DISALLOW it from growing into the very back of the upper gum. Without braces, she would have lead a very uncomfortable existence...

Braces aren't always born out of vanity... It's not always about perfect teeth! She was in dire straits without these braces.

Thank you for your comment!

McHobbit on July 12, 2016:

I could never do this to my children especially not if their teeth looked so good as your child's. They need to study for school, eat well, make these experiences you can only make being 8 or 10 or 12. Braces get in the way of all these things. A child in pain is not carefree, cannot focus on studying and cannot eat. I don't want my child's memory of being 12 to be "I was in pain". Why would I cause my child pain because some screwed up society says you must have perfect teeth or you are worthless? My child deserves to not be in pain for two years and to sleep without plastic in his/her mouth for life...which yes if you had braces you get a retainer you must wear forever.

Elsie Nelson (author) from Pacific Northwest, USA on June 22, 2012:

Thanks, Vellur! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 22, 2012:

Great hub with useful information. Wax really helps, some people just don't use it. Popsicle is the only best thing and the silver lining in this whole process. Voted up.

Related Articles