Oh braces, I don’t miss you.
I was one of the unlucky ones who didn’t have naturally straight teeth. And because my family was not well off financially, it was not until I was older that I could afford them.
Perhaps it’s because I got my braces later in life that I can still vividly remember trying to fall asleep that first night. And failing. The first night of attempting to sleep with braces was long and uncomfortable.
Truth be told a lot of that was my fault. In my nervous excitement to finally get my braces I failed to research, much less consider, the impact it would have on my sleep.
The good news is that sleeping with braces is an easy fix. And much of it comes down to preparation.
You can’t sleep with braces pain
After getting back home from the orthodontist your teeth will feel weird. Almost like there is this strange pressure places across your teeth.
Just how painful you find this pressure will vary from person to person. For the lucky, it’s a mild discomfort that won’t disturb your sleep. However others are a little more sensitive to this sensation and find that sleeping with braces feels similar to trying to sleep with a toothache.
Ibuprofen will be your best friend here. Pop a pill before heading to bed. With the pain dulled you will be able to drift off to sleep.
The good news is that the initial pain you are feeling is temporary. Within a week your teeth will have gotten used to your new mouth bling.
But it’s not over yet…
Each time you get your braces tightened or adjusted you may experience the same painful pressure across your teeth. Once again the solution is to take Ibuprofen before bed until the pain wears off.
Deal with those pesky brackets and wires
Do you sleep on your side or stomach? If you answered ‘yes’ then I have some bad news for you. These positions are not particularly friendly for sleeping with braces.
While braces have been designed to cause as little discomfort as possible, they are still made of metal; which is hardly soft.
Those brackets and wires that now make up half of your smiles can be particularly sharp. When you place your head on your pillow, the pressure can push these pointy bit’s into your cheek.
Not only can this be uncomfortable enough to prevent you sleeping but can also lead to cuts and abrasions.
There is nothing worse than a cut cheek, it happened to me numerous times because the bracket on my molar was particularly sharp. My tongue would keep fiddling with the sore. But perhaps the worst part was when I would eat salad that had a vinegar dressing. Whoa… the pain would bring tears to my eyes.
So the trick here is to prevent the bracket and wires from your braces from digging into your face while you sleep.
While you could always train yourself to sleep on your back this can be a hard habit to form.
That’s where dental wax comes in. It can be an absolute sleep-saver while your mouth is getting used to your braces.
My orthodontist handed me a stick of dental wax after my brace installation was complete. Foolishly I thought it was just a useless gimmick and tossed it in the trash. Don’t make the same mistake I did!
Use the dental wax as padding to place over the sharp brackets or pokey pieces of wire. With these pointy pieces covered, they will be unable to dig into your skin while you snooze.
To figure out where to place the dental wax, lay your head down on your pillow and position your body as if you would while you sleep. Close your eyes and feel which parts of your braces are pressing uncomfortably against your cheek.
These are the parts of your braces you will want to cover with dental wax. So pull your stick of wax apart and generously apply it to the pointy parts of your braces.
Good news, with time your cheeks will soon toughen up. Think of it like calluses on your hands. The skin gets rougher in response to repeat friction.
It is perfectly safe to sleep with dental wax on your braces. Wax is non-toxic, so don’t panic if you wake up to discover you have swallowed it. All that matters is that thew wax makes your mouth comfortable enough to fall asleep.
A Soft pillow is your best friend
Another great way to sleep comfortably with braces is to use sleep with a soft pillow.
Why a soft pillow?
Because a firmer pillow (like buckwheat) is going to apply more pressure to your braces through your cheek. A softer pillow will allow your head to sink in while evenly distributing the weight resulting in less overall pressure.
No pressure = no pain. No pain = a good sleep. It’s honestly as simple as that!
A soft pillow is also a must for headgear braces. While those oversized braces that wrap around your head are much less common now, you do still occasionally see them around.
A soft pillow will prevent the outside of the braces from digging uncomfortably into your head.
Sleeping with braces can be a grind
I have bad news for you teeth grinders; the pain from clamping down in your sleep with braces will be more than enough to wake you up in the middle of the night.
The pressure from the braces combined with the pressure of clamping down results in a searing pain that will jolt you awake.
If this sounds like you be sure to speak to your orthodontist. You may need to get a night guard. This flexible mouthguard will accommodate your moving teeth while preventing excess pressure on sensitive teeth from interrupting your sleep.
Obviously this is something you will want to discuss with your orthodontist before you get braces. Otherwise you will be forced to experience the joys of sleep grinding and braces while you wait for your next orthodontist appointment to roll around.
Avoid the dry mouth
A dry mouth and braces is a terrible mixture. If your mouth dries out your cheeks and inside of your lips can stick to your braces, resulting in a rather uncomfortable experience.
Peeling your cheek off your braces can lead to a sore forming, which will be painful for the following day.
The best way to do this is to keep hydrated, a small glass of water before you go to bed will help immensely. Just don’t drink so much that you need to wake up for a midnight stumble to the toilet.
This problem is most common in mouth breathers. The flow of air rushing through your mouth quickly leads to dryness. And when the dryness hits, the braces stick.
I found that the easiest way around this was to slowly puff up my cheeks in the morning. The blowfish look helped to gently separate the braces from the inside of my cheek without doing much more damage.
And that really is all there is to it!
As you can see, preparation goes a long way when it comes to sleeping with braces.
Do you have any tricks for snoozing with braces? Let me know in the comments below!