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How to Treat and Prevent Mouth Sores from Braces

Braces are amazing for correcting a variety of oral health problems – not to mention preventing future ones! It can be challenging to focus on the long-term health benefits of braces when you’re dealing with some of the immediate inconveniences they can bring. One concern that some patients ask about is regarding mouth sores from braces.

Also known as canker sores, they tend to be small and can often be quite uncomfortable. Understanding what causes mouth sores from your braces and knowing how to prevent them will help keep you happy and pain-free until your braces are ready to come off.

What Causes Mouth Sores?

The precise cause of mouth sores isn’t necessarily completely understood. However, there are several common triggers surrounding the development of ulcers in the mouth for individuals prone to them.

When you first start wearing braces, canker sores can be attributed to the new irritation due to the friction of your braces rubbing against the inside of your lips and cheeks. Sometimes this small irritation is all it takes for braces to cause mouth sores. As your mouth becomes more acclimated to your braces, the sores typically will appear less frequently or stop appearing altogether.

Common triggers that don’t involve braces include small cuts, abrasions or accidentally biting the inside of your mouth. Sometimes these cuts aren’t caused by accidents or injury, but by the food you eat. Rough foods that are hard and abrasive can cause enough irritation to trigger sores. You might also be surprised to hear that stress is correlated to the incidence of mouth ulcers, just like stress can cause teeth grinding!

Preventing Mouth Sores

If you begin to experience mouth sores, the first step should always be speaking with your orthodontist. They should be able to help identify if there’s a good solution. This is particularly important to help with healing, because further irritation can cause the sores to heal slowly and makes them more prone to infection.

There are a few different types of braces, depending on which type you have, the sores may not be related to your braces at all! If your orthodontist agrees that your braces may be triggering mouth sores, it’s likely they will recommend one of the two solutions here:

Orthodontic Wax

Orthodontic wax is made from natural substances like beeswax or paraffin wax.  Apply it directly to the brackets of your braces near the problem areas. This will lessen the effects of your braces rubbing against the inside of your mouth, as well as offering relief from the irritation.

Dental wax can be applied at any time of day, including before bed. Many patients find that applying the wax before going to sleep can help prevent distractions from their new braces, in addition to reducing the chance of sores developing overnight.

You’ll quickly find that this wax frequently breaks down over time. It’s necessary to reapply the wax as it begins to flake off. If you’re worried about accidentally swallowing the wax, don’t be! Orthodontic wax is designed to be non-toxic so it’s perfectly safe to swallow in small quantities.

Most pharmacies will have orthodontic wax available, so if you run out, it won’t be hard to find. The wax is packaged in a way that’s easy to travel with, so make sure to keep some in your purse or bag in case you need it!

Dental Silicone

Dental silicone is another option for preventing mouth sores due to braces. These silicone strips are similar to dental wax; once applied, the silicone creates a protective barrier between your braces and the inside of your mouth. The big benefit of dental silicone versus dental wax is that it lasts longer. While dental wax requires frequent reapplications, silicone will not flake off.

However, there are some downsides to dental silicone, which is why orthodontic wax is still quite popular. The biggest problem patients find with silicone is the difficulty of applying it to their brackets. Making the silicone stick requires your brackets to be completely dry, which can be tricky. You’ll find that getting used to applying dental silicone takes patience and practice. It’s also more expensive, so if you are particularly prone to canker sores, you might find it less cost effective.

Keep in mind that neither of these solutions are suitable to protect your braces for sports, for that, you’ll need an orthodontic mouth guard.

Tips for Treating Mouth Sores at Home

If you’re suffering from mouth sores, there are several solutions that can help them heal quickly and reduce the pain.

#1. Rinse with Salt Water & Hydrogen Peroxide

Mix two teaspoons of salt with equal parts water and 3% hydrogen peroxide and rinse for about 30 seconds. The pain from your canker sores can be minimized through the anti-inflammatory effect of this quick, homemade rinse. Another benefit is that it can help prevent infection too! Just make sure not to swallow the solution.

#2. Rinse with Baking Soda & Water

Similar to the tip above, you can create a rinse that is one teaspoon of baking soda and one-half cup water. Baking soda is an alkaline that neutralizes the acids that cause irritation and can also kill bacteria to prevent the sore from getting worse.

#3. Over-the-Counter Mouth Rinse

Your orthodontist can recommend a specialized rinse that is designed to not only help reduce inflammation and risk of infection in your mouth sores, but will also accelerate the speed at which it heals. Many of these rinses are available for purchase at any pharmacy.

#4. Avoid Spicy or Acidic Foods

When attempting to treat mouth sores, it is very important to avoid foods that can make them worse.  Spicy or acidic foods will exacerbate the problem. Not only does this slow the healing process, but it’s likely to cause severe pain when these foods come into contact with an open sore!


Schedule a Free Consultation

If you’re experiencing mouth sores or other irritation from your braces, we can help! Contact us online or call (800) 842-8015.


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