If you or your child recently visited the friendly team at Pavlik Orthodontics to have your braces tightened, it’s likely that you’re currently feeling a little bit of soreness in your teeth and gums. While this is to be expected and is entirely normal, the discomfort is no fun to experience and can be mildly distracting throughout the day. That’s why we’ve put together the following list of simple solutions to help reduce gum irritation in the days following getting your braces tightened. Also, keep in mind that every adjustment made by your orthodontist is a tiny step forward toward straighter teeth!

Tips for Managing Tooth and Gum Discomfort:

Keep an Ice Pack Handy — Applying cold pressure to the outside of your jaw on each side of your face periodically during the day can go a long way toward alleviating pain in your gums. While this may not be practical at work, school or while you’re on-the-go, it’s a perfect idea for when you’re simply lounging around the house or are relaxing on the couch.

Try Out an Over the Counter Oral Anesthetic — For discomfort that is slightly more severe, the use of oral anesthetics (such as Orajel or Anbesol) can be helpful. These over the counter gels are safe, inexpensive and can be applied directly to teeth and gums to temporarily eliminate soreness of the gums. Simply use a Q-tip to apply the numbing gel to the areas in your mouth experiencing pain.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Ice Cold Water — Drinking plenty of cold water after having your braces tightened is an easy, free and super-healthy way to naturally ease gum soreness! The icy temperature will cause a numbing sensation in your mouth and reduce gum inflammation.

Be Preemptive with Over the Counter Pain Relievers — Don’t wait for the inevitable! Instead, take some pain relief medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, an hour before your tightening appointment with your orthodontist. This will help reduce discomfort during the tightening session, as well as directly afterwards when soreness is most acute. The occasional use of these pain relievers can also, of course, come in handy in the days following your orthodontic appointment.

Resist the Urge to Pick or Poke! — For some unexplainable reason, people tend to experience the nagging urge to pick and prod at areas of soreness. It’s important to avoid poking around too much in your mouth following an orthodontic appointment. Brushing lightly and using mouthwash is needed, of course, but besides these actions it’s a good idea to give your mouth a rest when it’s feeling sore, swollen or uncomfortable. This will speed the healing process and reduce the chances of causing tearing or bleeding of the gums.

Avoid Foods Likely to Irritate Your Teeth and Gums — Soft foods are always a friend to individuals with braces, and this is especially true in the days after a tightening appointment.

Rather than opting for crispy, crunchy, or other hard-to-eat foods, opt for softer, smooth foods that won’t exacerbate gum inflammation. Yogurt, soup, mashed potatoes, smoothies, pudding and juices are all excellent options that don’t require much chewing.

Wait it Out — It’s an inconvenient yet unavoidable fact that you will likely experience a bit of discomfort following a session of braces tightening. But try to keep in mind that the discomfort is only temporary and will pass after a couple of days. Plus, the slight soreness will be more than worth it when you have your braces removed and your straight, healthy and beautiful new smile is revealed!