Orthodontic braces are a relatively painless and safe procedure. It’s no wonder why millions of teens and adults wear them. If you follow your orthodontists’ instructions, you can have a straighter smile in as little as one year. However, even the most minor medical procedures still carry with them side effects that you should prepare for. Braces include some side effects, from discomfort to white spots. However, most of the side effects of braces can be relieved or prevented entirely. Here’s what to look out for, what’s normal, and what you can do to keep your teeth straight and your smile healthy.

Discomfort & Irritation

Braces manually shift your teeth into alignment. The movement is slow, so you may not see a change right away, but it is happening! Discomfort from this tension is the most common complaint our patients have. Your teeth may feel tender, your jaw may feel sore, and your head may even hurt. These are all normal side effects, so don’t feel alarmed if you wake up the day after an appointment and feel some tooth or jaw pain the next day. Over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen can help provide some pain relief.

You also may notice some irritation around the inside of your mouth. This is because your lips and cheeks are rubbing over your brackets. Over time, as your teeth move and your mouth adjusts, this irritation will subside. We’ll give you orthodontic wax to place over your brackets to improve their comfort.

However, there are a few things that aren’t normal that you should be aware of: a sharp metal wire that pokes your cheek, severe pain, or any bleeding. If you notice these side effects, contact us immediately.

Dietary Restrictions

Immediately after your initial appointment is when your diet may be most limited. Trouble eating and speaking are other common side effects our patients face. Due to soreness, you should eat soft foods like yogurt, oatmeal, jello, and scrambled eggs. However, within a day or two, the discomfort should subside enough for you to return to eating solid foods.

Braces do require a dietary shift during your treatment period. You need to stay away from hard or sticky foods to prevent your braces from breaking. So no more gum, no more popcorn, and no more hard pretzels or candy. However, this doesn’t mean all of your favorite foods are off-limits! There are still plenty of types of food you can eat and we’ll provide you with some tasty alternatives you can turn to.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is an uncommon, but adverse, effect of braces. You’ll need to pay more attention to your oral health because the chances of tooth decay increase when you wear braces. It is easier for food to trap itself behind your wires, brackets, and the gaps between teeth. You’ll have to brush your teeth more often and floss between meals to ensure bacteria doesn’t have the chance to cause dental plaque. This is especially true if you eat sugary foods. Brush your teeth after sugary drinks and snacks to prevent the sugar from sitting on your teeth and causing plaque buildup. Plaque can lead to decalcification, which will lead to white spots after braces or even cavities. White spots aren’t reversible and cavities can delay your treatment period, so pay attention to your dental health. Poor hygiene is a sure way to reverse the benefits of your treatment.

Allergic Reaction

Allergic reaction is another rare side effect of braces. Some patients may experience an allergic reaction to latex rubber bands or even the metal used in their wires or brackets. If you know of allergies you or your child may have, please tell our team as soon as possible before their treatment begins. There are numerous types of braces to turn to, including latex and metal-free options or even invisible braces like plastic Invisalign.

Loss of Correction

Unfortunately, we sometimes see our orthodontic patients return because they failed to wear their retainer after their treatment. The work isn’t over after your orthodontic treatment ends. It is just beginning. You must wear your retainer regularly to prevent the movement of your teeth back to their original location. Immediately following your treatment, you’ll have to wear your retainer all day. After a few months, we’ll still recommend you wear your retainer at night.

The Benefits of Braces

These are just a few of the side effects of braces. Most of them are very minor and can be relieved if you listen to your orthodontist. Even the major side effects like tooth decay or loss of correction can be prevented entirely with proper oral hygiene and by wearing your retainer.

If these side effects have kept you from exploring braces, remember: the benefits of braces far outweigh their minor side effects. The slight tooth pain you may feel after getting your braces tightened only lasts a few days, but your straighter, healthier, and beautiful smile lasts forever! Contact our team of orthodontists in Allentown, Reading, and beyond to see how we can help.