If you are experiencing headaches during your orthodontic treatment, you might wonder if your braces or clear aligners are the cause. In this guide, we will explore the possible causes of headaches during orthodontic treatment and the solutions to alleviate the discomfort.

Causes of Headaches from Braces

Braces can cause headaches primarily after they have been installed or after they have been tightened. If you use clear aligners, you may experience headaches after switching to a new set of trays. When your braces are tightened or when you begin wearing a new set of clear aligners, pressure is applied to your teeth, slowly moving them into their proper positions and can cause pain or discomfort.

Sometimes this discomfort can manifest as a headache. This discomfort and the accompanying headache should only last one or two days. If the pain persists for more than two days following the installation or tightening of your braces, contact your orthodontist.

Other factors that can cause headaches

Your headache may be caused by something other than your braces, such as:

  • A lack of sleep or inconsistent sleep patterns
  • Nitrates found in processed foods
  • Dehydration
  • Skipping meals
  • Poor posture
  • Excessive screen time
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Stress
  • Teeth grinding or clenching

A combination of several factors often causes headaches. A typical variety that can cause headaches is excessive screen time, a lack of sleep, and dehydration. If you experience frequent headaches, with or without braces, contact your family doctor, and they will help you determine the cause of your headaches.

Can braces cause migraines?

Braces alone rarely cause migraines. Often migraines result from a preexisting condition like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ-D or TMD), which causes jaw pain, headaches, and neck aches. Pressure from braces can trigger pain from existing conditions and lead to migraines. Braces aces are meant to fix those pre-existing conditions, which should relieve your pain over time.

Solutions to alleviate discomfort from braces

Braces pain after the first day or after a tightening is usually minor and relatively easy to handle. It can be a headache, but you can also have a sore jaw or gums and teeth that are tender or sore.

Several at-home solutions can alleviate your pain from braces, including:

Take OTC pain medication: To reduce or eliminate your pain, take over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Don’t worry; you won’t be taking them for a long time. If the pain continues after three days, you should tell your dentist. They might loosen the braces a bit.

Eat soft foods: Soft foods won’t jar your teeth and jaws as much and will be easier to chew and handle with sore teeth.

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.

In addition to these home remedies, your orthodontist may recommend other treatments to help alleviate the pain from your braces. These may include using orthodontic wax to cover sharp or protruding edges of your braces or prescribing prescription pain medication if your pain is severe.

Following your orthodontist’s instructions for caring for your braces and managing any pain or discomfort is essential. This includes attending all scheduled appointments, keeping your braces clean and well-maintained, and avoiding hard, crunchy, or sticky foods that could damage your braces.

Talk to your orthodontist or healthcare provider if you have persistent headaches or other symptoms interfering with your daily life. They can help you identify the cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment options to alleviate your discomfort. With proper care and attention, you can minimize the impact of your braces on your daily life and enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile.


Can braces cause sinus headaches?

Braces themselves do not directly cause sinus headaches. However, some people with misaligned jaws or distorted palates may have reduced nasal airways, which can cause sinus headaches. As braces fix these issues, it can become easier to breathe through the nose, reducing the likelihood of sinus headaches.

Can headaches be a sign of a problem with braces?

If you are experiencing persistent headaches after the first few days of getting braces or after a tightening, it could be a sign of a problem with your braces. Contact your orthodontist to schedule an appointment and have them check if your braces are too tight or if there are other issues.

How long do braces headaches last?

Braces headaches usually last one to two days after a tightening or a new set of aligners. If the headaches persist beyond this timeframe, contact your orthodontist to see if there are any issues with your braces or other underlying causes.

When should I contact my orthodontist about my headache?

If your headache persists for more than two days following the installation or tightening of your braces, or if the pain is unbearable, contact your orthodontist.

Don’t Worry, your Experienced Orthodontist Will Take Good Care of You and Your Braces

While braces can cause discomfort and headaches after installation or tightening, this discomfort should only last for one or two days. If your pain persists beyond that, don’t hesitate to contact your orthodontist. Instead, they’ll be able to provide you with further advice and treatment options to alleviate any discomfort.

It’s also important to remember that various factors beyond braces, such as poor sleep patterns, dehydration, or stress, can cause headaches. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches, your family doctor can help identify the cause and provide further guidance.

In addition to the at-home remedies for discomfort from braces, such as soft foods and cold compresses, your orthodontist may recommend other treatments, such as orthodontic wax or prescription medication, to alleviate pain.

Remember to follow your orthodontist’s instructions for caring for your braces, attending all scheduled appointments, and avoiding hard, crunchy, or sticky foods that could damage your braces.

If you have more questions about your braces, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Jim Ellis, D.D.S. We’ll provide the answers and support you need to ensure a smooth and successful orthodontic treatment. So sit back, relax, and trust your skilled orthodontist’s care.