If you wear braces, then you are aware that you need to visit an orthodontic office periodically to have them adjusted or tightened. Tightening your braces is what gradually moves your teeth into their proper position, which is one of the mainstays of orthodontic treatment. Before your scheduled appointment, your orthodontist may recommend the following to help ensure that your tightening visit is uneventful.
Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen
Your orthodontist may recommend taking an over-the-counter, or OTC, anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen a couple of hours prior to your scheduled tightening appointment. Getting your braces tightened or adjusted can cause mild pressure, which some may perceive as uncomfortable. In addition, the gentle manipulation of your brackets and wires may lead to slight inflammation of your gum tissue.
Taking an OTC anti-inflammatory medication will help prevent you from experiencing any unusual sensations during your appointment, and it will also help reduce the risk for gum inflammation. If you are unable to tolerate ibuprofen or other OTC anti-inflammatory medication, you can take acetaminophen.
Although acetaminophen will relieve the pressure sensations and mild discomfort of getting your braces adjusted, it will not have any effect on gum inflammation. Also, if you prefer to avoid these medications altogether, your orthodontist may recommend applying a small amount of an oral numbing gel to your gums prior to your appointment. Numbing gels are over-the-counter preparations that are often used to manage gum pain in teething babies.
Brush and Floss Your Teeth
Before your braces tightening appointment, it is essential that you brush and floss your teeth. If you do fail to do so, food particles may become lodged under your hardware or get pushed underneath your gumline during the braces adjustment process. This can lead to pain, inflammation of your gum tissue, and even an infection.
To further augment your brushing and flossing efforts, swish some mouthwash around your mouth for a few seconds to help decrease the bacterial count inside your mouth and to dislodge any food particles that may have been missed after flossing. If you do not have any mouthwash at home, rinse your mouth out with a mild saltwater solution. The salinity of the saltwater may help reduce gum swelling and the mild discomfort that you may experience during your tightening appointment.
To learn more about what you should do both before and after getting your braces tightened, talk to your orthodontist. When you are a well-informed patient, you are more likely to enjoy the benefits of successful orthodontic treatment.