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Why do my braces hurt after tightening?

Feb 23, 2024

"Why do my braces hurt after tightening?" This is a question that many people getting braces may wonder about. It's normal to feel discomfort after your braces are tightened, and it can make you curious about why it happens. Understanding why braces hurt after tightening can help you handle the discomfort better and stay positive during your orthodontic journey.

After your braces are tightened, you might feel some soreness. Everyone experiences it differently – some might not feel anything at all. But don't worry; we're here to help you through it. Learn why your teeth might hurt and discover ways to make them feel better.

Why Tightening Braces Hurt?

During orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist actively moves your teeth to new positions. This process can affect blood flow around the teeth, triggering an inflammatory response. This response releases substances that activate your pain receptors, causing your teeth to feel sore as they move.

At each appointment, your orthodontist adjusts the archwire, the metal wire that spans your smile and connects your brackets. Depending on your case, they may bend, tighten, or replace the wire. As the wire strains to return to its original position, it applies gentle pressure on the teeth, gradually straightening your smile.

While some patients don't experience pain after their appointments, others may feel discomfort for 1-3 days. The good news for new patients is that soreness tends to lessen with each subsequent appointment after the first six months.

How to Reduce Discomfort During Braces Tightening?

If you are having any discomfort after tightening the braces, follow these tips to feel better.

  • When starting treatment or going for a tightening, plan meals with soft foods like pureed soups, yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese, pudding, Jell-O, and mashed potatoes. Avoid chewy or tough foods that can be hard to eat right after your appointment.
  • Don't hesitate to use wax to cover any brackets or hooks that are rubbing against sensitive skin. Applying wax helps prevent pain and allows your skin to toughen up in those areas over time.
  • For pain and headaches, consider taking a mild painkiller like Tylenol. The tightness in your jaw from braces tightening can cause temporary headaches. You can also try wrapping your head in a hot or cold towel for relief.
  • Avoid picking at your braces, as this can damage them and prolong your treatment time. Resisting the urge to fiddle with your braces can save you from additional weeks or even months of treatment and extra costs.
  • Using an ice pack on your cheeks can help reduce inflammation, easing discomfort. Place the ice pack on the outside of your mouth. Be cautious not to use it for too long, as prolonged exposure can damage tissue. It's best to ice the area for no more than 10 minutes at a time, allowing the skin to warm up between sessions.
  • Sipping on ice water can provide relief and hydration, benefiting both your comfort and dental health. The cold liquid helps numb sore spots in your mouth and reduces inflammation.
  • While it'sdrinking ice water is refreshing, avoid chewing on the ice, especially with braces. Chewing ice can lead to broken brackets or wires. It's actually not recommended to chew ice even without braces, so it's best to leave the ice in your cup.

Here are some additional tips to help alleviate post-tightening discomfort:Discomfort During Braces Tightening

  • Try massaging your jaw to loosen the tension in the muscles surrounding it. This can help relax the pressure and reduce lactic acid buildup, which causes muscle soreness. Relieving this discomfort can help accelerate your recovery from the soreness.
  • Reach out to friends who also have braces and discuss your experiences with them. They may offer valuable insights and remedies for managing soreness after a tightening session. Sometimes, sharing experiences with others going through the same thing can be the best remedy for discomfort.
  • If your parents had braces when they were younger, ask them about their experiences and how they coped with discomfort during tightening days. They can relate to what you're going through and offer support and advice based on their own experiences.
  • Find someone trustworthy, such as a parent, close family friend, sibling, or friend, and express your frustrations to them. Sometimes, venting can help improve your mood and distract you from the discomfort of tightness.

It's normal to experience some discomfort during your orthodontic treatment – it's a natural part of the process. Consider the remarkable transformation happening with your braces. Moving your teeth into new positions requires effort, and some discomfort is to be expected along the way. Remember, the temporary sensitivity will be worth it in the end for the beautiful smile you'll achieve.


Understanding "why do my braces hurt after tightening" helps alleviate concerns and discomfort associated with orthodontic treatment. By recognizing the natural process of teeth movement and inflammation, patients can better manage their pain and stay motivated throughout their orthodontic journey.

Ready to address your orthodontic concerns and discomfort? Book an appointment with Dr. Afroz Burges DDS, PA, today. New patients can call at 281-547-2632, while all other callers can call at 713-340-2889 to schedule a consultation and explore treatment options.


How long do braces hurt after getting them tightened?

After tightening your braces, you may experience discomfort similar to when you first got them. However, this unease typically subsides within 1-3 days after your appointment. To ease discomfort during brace adjustments, consider using over-the-counter pain relievers. You can also find relief by consuming cool items to soothe the soreness.

Why do my braces suddenly feel tight?

The mouth is highly sensitive to change, so when the wires or brackets are tightened, it can make the teeth feel "tight" too. This sensation occurs due to the pressure associated with tightening the wires.

How long do your teeth ache after braces removal?

The discomfort occurs because the bones surrounding the teeth need to soften to accommodate the teeth's new position. Typically, the discomfort subsides within a few days.



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