If you recently got braces, congratulations on starting your journey to a bright, healthy smile! It may not feel like much of a victory right now, though, if your teeth ache in response to the tightened or loosened wires and bands from your most recent follow up visit with Dr. Speaks. While these adjustments can be a little painful, they’re necessary to make your teeth shift into their proper positions. Try these eight easy ways to reduce discomfort after your braces are adjusted.

Take Medication

Your first option is to take over-the-counter painkillers to take the edge off the pain. You may even want to act preemptively by taking the recommended dose immediately before your appointment so the medicine has time to work into your system. You can also rub your gums with an oral anesthetic such as Orajel or Anbesol to numb the affected area.

Eat and Drink the Right Foods

Cold water, ice cream and frozen yogurt are highly beneficial for providing temporary numbness and relieving inflammation. You can even suck on ice cubes for same effect. Likewise, slurping on soup and drinking warm milk increases blood circulation to your gums and helps promote faster healing. Whatever you eat for the next few days, avoid crunchy or chewy foods that could put extra pressure on your teeth to reduce discomfort after your braces are adjusted.

Use an Ice Pack or Heating Pad

Just as warm and cold foods inside your mouth can help reduce discomfort after your braces are adjusted, heat and cold on your cheeks can also provide much-needed relief. When you don’t feel like eating, place an ice pack wrapped in a towel on your cheek near the sore area of your mouth to help reduce inflammation. Alternate this with a heating pad or hot water bottle to increase blood flow to the area.

Brush with a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush

Most dentists recommend using soft toothbrushes at all times to prevent damaging your teeth, but it’s especially important to brush gently after your braces are adjusted. Be gentle, but no less thorough when you brush your teeth, and don’t forget to floss!

Use Dental Wax

A rogue wire is one common cause of discomfort after your braces are adjusted. To prevent painful mouth sores, cover the offending wire with dental wax. This acts as a cushion to keep the wire from digging into your cheek or lip.

Sand Down Sharp Edges

If you have Invisalign, your adjustments involve simply trading out your old aligners for a new set. While you don’t have to worry about sharp metal wires sticking out, your aligners may still have sharp edges. If any poke your cheeks and lips, sand them down a little and smooth them out until they feel comfortable.

Be Patient

Combine as many of these tips as possible to reduce discomfort after your braces are adjusted. After that, there’s nothing more you can do but simply wait it out. Your teeth may feel a little tender for a few days, but soon they’ll be back to normal.

Maintain a Healthy Smile

Facing a recovery period each time your braces are tightened may be frustrating right now, but the end results will be well worth it! Once your teeth are completely straightened and your braces are removed, you’ll be able to smile with confidence for years to come. Remember, if Dr. Speaks recommends you wear a retainer at night, do so regularly to prevent your teeth from shifting and resulting in discomfort when you finally put it back on.