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What to Expect After Your Braces are Tightened

What to Expect After Your Braces are Tightened

After you get your braces put on, you’ll need a series of recurring follow-up appointments to get them tightened. This adjustment leads to a cell regeneration process. As the teeth are under pressure, some bone and tissue breaks down, after which it regenerates. Afterward, the teeth and their supporting structures can begin to move again, continuing the process of slowly moving your teeth into their desired positions. You’ll get your braces adjusted every six to eight weeks, until you eventually have them removed.

What happens when my braces are tightened?

Orthodontic adjustment is a relatively simple process. First, an orthodontic assistment will remove your ligatures, the rubber bands that hold each bracket to the arch wire. Then, they will also remove the arch wire. At this point, you’ll probably be instructed to brush and floss without the wire in.

The orthodontist will come and examine how your teeth are progressing. You may need a new arch wire, or additional equipment like power chains or elastic. Then, the arch wire — whether it’s the same one or a new one — is put back onto the brackets. The orthodontist will also put on new ligatures, which might cause some mild discomfort because of the pressure it puts on your teeth. The first few adjustments are usually more uncomfortable than subsequent adjustments.

If the arch wire is poking your teeth, you should tell your orthodontist. It may need to be clipped and shortened. Otherwise, it will start cutting into the side of your cheek.

Does tightening braces hurt? What to expect when you get your braces tightened

Having your braces adjusted can cause some mild pain and discomfort, since it puts pressure on your teeth. There are a few things that you can do before your appointment to reduce discomfort during the procedure:


  • Remain calm. If you’re nervous or anxious, it could actually lead you to subjectively experience more pain. Listening to music with headphones in, practicing deep breathing, and other techniques can help you relax while your braces are tightened.
  • Take an over the counter painkiller. You can take acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen to reduce the likelihood that you’ll feel significant discomfort.


There are also things that you can do to reduce pain after the procedure, besides taking over the counter pain medication.


  • Eat a soft diet. Soft foods are easier on your teeth for the 12-24 hours directly following your orthodontic adjustment. Foods like Jello, pudding, soups, and smoothies don’t need to be chewed, reducing strain on your teeth.
  • Use ice packs. An ice pack on your face can help reduce pain and swelling by numbing your teeth, gums, and jaw.
  • Use a soft toothbrush and toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Using a softer toothbrush can feel more comfortable directly after your adjustment. There are also toothpastes designed especially for sensitive teeth, like Sensodyne.
  • Eat ice cream or drink a smoothie. Cold, soft foods like ice cream and smoothies can soothe your teeth, reducing inflammation and discomfort.


How many times will I get my braces tightened?

You’ll be seeing your orthodontist quite a bit over the next few years. Most people wear braces for anywhere from one to three years, depending on the type and severity of orthodontic defects that need to be corrected. You may have them adjusted more frequently earlier in the process than later, but it will be a regular occurrence for months or even years.

Orthodontists usually design treatment plans to move your teeth slowly, which helps prevent discomfort. But, every time your braces are adjusted, your teeth move just a little bit. Some discomfort is inevitable during this process, but it’s not as bad as you might think.

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