If you just started treatment with braces and you’re told that braces have to be ‘tightened’ throughout the process, you may be a little nervous! What does it mean to ‘tighten’ braces? 

It isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds, we promise! Think of it as ‘adjusting’ your braces, not necessarily tightening them.

The goal of orthodontic treatment is to guide teeth into new positions to create a healthy, beautiful alignment. To accomplish tooth movement, there has to be a sufficient amount of pressure applied – which is where ‘tightening your braces’ comes into play!

Here’s everything you need to know about braces adjustments:


How are braces tightened?

When you first get braces, there’s a considerable amount of pressure applied to your teeth. As your braces do their job and your teeth move into new positions, the pressure decreases. This is when you’ll visit us for a braces adjustment appointment to have your braces ‘tightened’. 

How often do braces get tightened?

Every four to six weeks or so (depending on your personalized treatment plan), your orthodontist will replace the elastics around your brackets with fresh elastics and replace your archwires if necessary. This restores the necessary pressure (don’t worry, it’s a gentle pressure!)


How long does it take to get your braces tightened?

On average, a braces adjustment appointment may take about 30 minutes. Dr. Saxe or Dr. Drowley will examine your teeth to ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned, discuss your experience with you and answer any questions, then ‘tighten’ or adjust your braces to resume the process. 


Does getting braces tightened hurt?

Getting your braces tightened does not hurt. However, you may experience some soreness around your gums during the first few days to a week after your braces adjustment appointment

To alleviate soreness, you can try an over-the-counter pain reliever, like Tylenol®. You can also rinse your mouth with warm salt water (1 cup water, ¼ tsp. salt) along with Tylenol or Advil as prescribed for your weight and age to reduce soreness.

With each braces adjustment appointment, the soreness will decrease and be less noticeable. 

Trust the process and know that it gets easier! You’re taking the necessary steps to improve your health, smile and self confidence – and that’s something to be proud of.


Do all braces need to be tightened?

Not all braces require tightening, but all orthodontic treatments require adjustments or check-in appointments throughout the process.

  • Self-ligating braces: While traditional braces have to be tightened routinely, self-ligating braces do not require tightening. Self-ligating braces use a passive ‘clip’ mechanism for brackets, instead of using rubber bands. These tie-less braces still require adjustments to the archwires and check-ins to ensure progress, but don’t require tightening. 
  • Invisalign® clear aligners: Invisalign aligners are custom-designed to fit your smile and gradually align your teeth with each new set. Once your aligners are printed, you simply pop them in your mouth to begin or resume treatment. Similar to braces, each new set of aligners will apply pressure that gradually decreases as your teeth move.


Still have questions about tightening braces?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We’re more than happy to discuss the treatment process with you and help you make the best decision for your smile.

Our experienced orthodontists, Dr. Saxe and Dr. Drowley, are here for you and your family every step of the way. 

If you’re ready to get started, request your complimentary consultation with us in Summerlin, Las Vegas today!