It’s an exciting time to get braces or Invisalign and start the journey toward a beautiful, new smile. Our patients are often eager to start the braces process or their treatment with Invisalign. However, they sometimes call a day or two later asking about headaches from braces or Invisalign. Can braces cause headaches? Or worse, can orthodontics cause migraines? It’s possible to feel some discomfort early on and immediately after an office visit. Often, other factors are involved in causing headaches, and those factors are what the braces or Invisalign are trying to fix! 

Appel Orthodontics will work with you to customize your treatment and make it the most comfortable treatment possible, but you should be prepared for some discomfort. It’s normal as your teeth begin moving and when your braces are tightened or your clear aligner trays are switched out. But you may also grind your teeth either before or at the start of your orthodontic braces treatment, which can cause headaches and even migraines. We have some tips on how to alleviate the pain and make your orthodontic treatment easier.

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Do Braces Cause Headaches?

It is possible for braces to cause headaches after installation or after being tightening. As the braces are tightened, the pressure that moves the teeth into their proper positions can also cause pain or discomfort. This can manifest into a headache. So it’s not uncommon that a side effect of braces for adults and kids is a headache. But a braces headache usually can be reduced or eliminated with over-the-counter painkillers, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. 

This also applies to Invisalign headaches, which usually occur when the patient switches to a new set of trays. As with braces, the soreness usually only lasts a day or two. If the pain persists, contact us. We can get you in to check that your braces or Invisalign aren’t too tight. It’s possible that persistent headaches beyond the normal day or two are caused by other factors. 

Other factors that can trigger headaches include:

  • Red wine or other alcoholic beverages
  • Nitrates, which can be found in processed meats and other foods
  • Not enough sleep or changes in sleep patterns
  • Skipping meals
  • Allergic reactions to the sinuses such as inflammation or congestion
  • Stress
  • Poor posture
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Can Braces Cause Migraines?

Braces alone rarely cause migraines. Often, migraines after braces are the result of a preexisting condition, such as teeth-grinding or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ-D or TMD), which causes jaw pain, headaches, and neck aches. Sometimes, pressure from braces — especially after they’re first added — can trigger the pain from existing conditions and can lead to migraines. The good news is, braces are meant to fix those pre-existing conditions, which should reduce your pain over time. 

If your braces are too tight at first, it may be possible to loosen them slightly to reduce the pain. Otherwise, over-the-counter painkillers may be a good solution. 

Migraines can also be triggered by dehydration. This can be caused by breathing through the mouth instead of the nose. Some patients may breathe through their mouths because their misaligned jaws or distorted palates reduce their nasal airways. As braces fix these issues, it will become easier to breathe through their noses. Until then, dehydration could be a problem that could lead to headaches and even migraines. The solution is to drink lots of water. Other drinks may contain caffeine, including tea and soft drinks, that can actually make dehydration worse. They also contain sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. That’s why water is recommended. 

How do you know whether you have a migraine? Look for these symptoms:

  • Moderate to severe pain beyond a normal headache
  • Pounding or throbbing pain
  • Consistent pain that lasts several hours or even several days
  • Sensitivity to noise, odors, or light
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Stomach ache
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How to Fix Braces Pain

Braces pain after the first day or after a tightening is usually minor and fairly easy to handle. It can be in the form of a headache, but you can also have a sore jaw or gums and teeth that are tender or sore. There are several at-home solutions that can alleviate your pain from braces. 

  • Eat soft foods: Soft foods won’t jar your teeth and jaws as much and will be a little easier to chew and handle with sore teeth. 
  • Rinse with saltwater: Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater, swishing it around your gums. Don’t get the water too hot. Let all of the salt dissolve in the water. Rinse 3-4 times a day to reduce soreness.
  • Take OTC pain medication: You can take over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil), to reduce or eliminate your pain. 
  • Use a cold compress: Placing a cold compress on your jaw can reduce or eliminate your pain. Use the cold compress 3-4 times a day for no more than 10 minutes each time. 

Can Orthodontics Fix Headaches?

What if your headaches aren’t caused by orthodontics? Can having braces cause headaches to be worse if they already exist? It’s possible, but keep in mind your braces are working to fix the problems that may be causing your headaches. Let’s look at what orthodontics can fix. 

Malocclusion: A malocclusion is when your bite doesn’t align properly when your jaw is at rest. This is also known as a bad bite, and it can include conditions including an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. A bad bite can put strain on the jaw and the joint that connects the lower jaw to the rest of the skull. This joint is called the temporomandibular joint. Your braces or Invisalign are designed to correct malocclusions and alleviate pain in the jaw, head, and neck.

TMJ Disorder: TMJ Disorder is when the temporomandibular joint because sore, inflamed or worn down as the result of pressure caused by a bad bite. Teeth-grinding and jaw clenching can also cause TMJ Disorder. This can cause jaw, head, and neck pain. The strain will be eased by orthodontic treatment, which fixes a bad bite. 

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Relieving Headaches With Orthodontics in Philadelphia

Whether you have bruxism, TMD or just a bad overbite, Appel Orthodontics can repair your teeth and jaw issues and reduce your headaches with orthodontic treatment. You can begin your treatment journey by scheduling an appointment at our Philadelphia, PA, office. Our Northeast Philadelphia office also services patients in the Roxborough, Dresher, and South Philly areas. 

You shouldn’t live with headache and migraine pain. If your headaches are related to your teeth, you don’t have to live with the pain. Contact Appel Orthodontics and let us help.

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