If you’ve experienced that jolt of frozen pain after biting into a popsicle or slurping a frozen slushy, you know the unpleasant feeling of sensitive teeth. It happens to all of us!
But what exactly causes the teeth to become more sensitive? Is it only caused by slushies and ice cream?
There are a number of factors that contribute to sensitive teeth, including age, hot/cold foods and beverages, dental conditions (like cavities or receding gums)—and sometimes, orthodontic treatment.
As your teeth are getting used to the support of your braces, you may experience some unique sensations like tooth sensitivity or tooth wiggling, but at no point should you have considerable tooth pain with braces.
Let’s explore the sensation of sensitive teeth with braces and what you can do to minimize it!
Why do my teeth hurt with braces?
There are many different reasons why you might develop sensitivity in your teeth, with or without braces. (Our teeth actually become more sensitive as we age! That’s why you can’t bite into a popsicle without wincing anymore...)
Braces can cause some tenderness and sensitivity, but this should only be the case for a few days to a week.
Discomfort that lasts more than a week or two is most likely due to an underlying issue. Here are a few conditions that may cause your teeth to hurt with braces.
Tooth Decay - Tooth decay that leads to cavities is a major contributor to teeth sensitivity. Food and bacteria form acids that will demineralize and weaken tooth enamel if the teeth are not cleaned regularly. When the enamel layer continues to thin, it will eventually expose the tiny tubules connected to the tooth’s nerve, making the tooth especially sensitive. Brushing teeth too hard or too aggressively can also expose your nerve endings, making them more sensitive.
Fractures in teeth - A fractured tooth or a gap in a filling can be a source of sensitive teeth. This can be caused by perpetual grinding and clenching of the jaws. If you’re experiencing this, please talk to Dr. Dunn and Dr. Schreiber about a mouthguard at your next visit!
Teeth whitening treatments - Many teeth-whitening treatments contain ingredients that may alter the structure of your teeth and make them more sensitive. Always check in with your orthodontist before using any type of teeth-whitening solution. We recommend that you wait until your braces treatment is complete to whiten your teeth anyway! Whitening during treatment can leave discoloration or white spots where your brackets are.
Gum recession - Aggressive brushing of the gums or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can cause the gums to recede from the crown portion of the tooth, exposing the root surfaces. If this occurs, your teeth can become extremely sensitive to cold.
Can braces make your teeth sensitive to cold?
Braces may bring some very minor, temporary sensitivity as your teeth and gums adjust to the support of your braces. This is most likely to occur during the first week or two of your treatment.
If your teeth have suddenly become sensitive during your treatment, there’s likely an underlying cause. If you experience tooth pain during your treatment, please let your orthodontist and your dentist know as soon as possible.
Will my front teeth hurt from braces?
Getting braces should not be painful! Braces are designed to move teeth by placing consistent, gentle pressure on them. During the first few weeks, you may notice some minor tenderness or soreness, but healthy teeth and gums will adjust quickly.
When you visit our office for adjustments, the newly applied pressure may still cause some tenderness for a day or so, but you shouldn’t experience any severe pain. If you notice your front teeth hurt after braces or an adjustment, be sure to tell us about it so we can ensure that everything is a-okay!
How to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity with Braces
Maintaining proper oral hygiene is the first line of defense against tooth sensitivity! Neglecting your oral hygiene routine can leave your teeth and gums feeling irritated and unhappy, which contributes to sensitivity.
Brush and floss your teeth twice a day to prevent bacteria from building up, plaque from hardening on your teeth and debris from getting stuck between teeth. Use a fluoride toothpaste day and night to strengthen your enamel and support your teeth in the battle against sensitivity.
Dr. Dunn and Dr. Schreiber have helped thousands of patients to achieve a beautiful, healthy smile. We are always here to give you tips and advice to support you through your treatment process.
Still have questions about sensitive teeth with braces?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We love to hear from you. We’re here to guide you through your treatment process, from your very first visit, to your last appointment.