Contrary to popular belief, braces are not painful or uncomfortable once you get used to them. However, it’s the initial attachment of the braces, as well as the subsequent adjustments, that cause the most pain and discomfort.
If you’ve decided to get adult braces instead of clear aligners from the lab, you might be in for an incredibly uncomfortable next few days. Unfortunately, braces-related pain is not a valid excuse to miss work (welcome to the adult world), so here are the best ways you can survive the next day(s) with the pain:
1. Prepare your meals
One of the biggest challenges that you will face after getting braces fitted is finding a way to eat without feeling like your teeth might fall off. When you have to go to work after getting braces or having them readjusted, take the time to prepare your lunches so that you won’t have to go hungry when the office cafeteria doesn’t have anything soft enough. Soft, non-irritating foods are your best bet during the next few days, so pack these in your lunch bag before going to work:
- Clear soup or chowder
- Soft cheeses
- Mashed potatoes
- Cooked or ripe, soft fruits
- Very soft pasta
- Cooked vegetables
- Soft scrambled eggs
- Silken tofu
2. Take OTC painkillers
Take the recommended dose of an over-the-counter painkiller at least an hour before you get to work. In this way, most if not all the pain will already have dissipated once you arrive. Bring extra pills with you in case the pain flares up again (which will most likely happen), but limit your dosage to only the recommended amount on the bottle or pack.
3. Bring a cold compress
Cold helps relieve braces-related pain by numbing the mouth and reducing inflammation. To help reduce the pain while at work, bring an ice pack with you and press it to your face every once in a while. Keep it in the office freezer when not in use, but don’t forget to wrap it in a plastic bag or place it in a container so that it won’t come in contact with food.
4. Sip ice-cold water
Keep an insulated tumbler full of ice-cold water at your desk. When the pain gets too much, take a sip of the cold water to help numb your mouth and relieve at least some of your discomfort.
5. Use an oral anesthetic
Over-the-counter oral anesthetics can contain benzocaine or phenol, substances that act as a local anesthetic which accounts for pain relief when used on teeth and gums. You can use this type of product to get rid of braces-related pain either at home or at work. But if the pain is more severe, you can ask your orthodontist for prescription-strength oral anesthetic.
6. Brush your teeth
If you didn’t use to brush your teeth at work after lunch, it’s best to start doing it now that you have braces in. Braces increase the tendency of food getting stuck to your teeth, which can put you at risk of tooth decay and gingivitis, among other dental problems. To prevent even more oral problems from occurring, make it a habit to brush your teeth at work after eating lunch.
7. Avoid office treats
Unfortunately, you would have to say no to the free donuts in the pantry or the cupcake that your co-worker offers you, at least for the first few days of wearing braces. But after the adjustment period, limit your consumption of sugary treats to avoid grime build-up under your braces and subsequent tooth decay.
8. Use dental wax
Your orthodontist will likely give you a dental wax to put inside your lips, cheeks, and gums, to protect them from the brackets on your teeth. This special wax will reduce wounding and irritation from the sharp edges of the brackets, thus preventing even more braces-related pain.
If the orthodontist doesn’t give you dental wax, you can buy your own.
9. Avoid talking
If you don’t have dental wax inside your mouth, avoid talking as much as possible to prevent your brackets from scratching against the inside of your lips and cheeks. But if your job requires you to talk a lot, it’s highly recommended that you use dental wax before going to work lest you end up with a bloody mouth at the end of the day.
Getting braces as an adult can be tough, especially when you have to go to work during the initial adjustment period. Nevertheless, these strategies can make the first few days a little less uncomfortable, which can help you focus on your work despite the pain.