No one denies that the first week you have your braces on that there is some discomfort. Most studies agree that pain peaks at 24 hours and resolves around day seven. Orthodontic pain comes from a restriction in blood supply, inflammation, and swelling in the compressed periodontal ligament. Histamine, bradykinin, prostaglandins, serotonin, and substance P are released and irritate the nerve endings of the pain receptors, thus causing pain. Bottom line for someone who has new braces, their mouth is sore!
For years most patients have relied on NSAids, such as ibuprofen, to relieve mouth pain in the first week after braces are placed. The American Journal of Orthodontics published a study in 2012 that provided additional options for pain relief. The potential side effects associated with NSAids in young patients have become a concern so many orthodontists are looking for alternatives. Chewing gum and plastic wafers have been suggested as possible options.
There are various types of mouth pain associated with the placement of braces including chewing, biting bringing front teeth together and bringing back teeth together. The study results showed that both chewing gum and plastic wafers both were good alternatives to NSAids. Chewing gum was especially beneficial in reducing chewing pain.
So how do you use chewing gum to relieve chewing pain? First, Dr. Reagin only recommends sugar-free gum. The study suggests chewing gum for 5 minutes immediately after braces placement and at 8-hour intervals for 1 week if pain is experienced.
Note: The published study was performed by Fahimeh Farzanegan, Seyed Mojtaba Zebarjad, Sanaz Alizadeh, and Farzaneh Ahraria Mashhad, Iran.