Sensory Physiology

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Surprisingly it takes just a few ounces of pressure to move teeth. This light pressure alters the blood flow around the roots of your teeth triggering cellular remodeling in the bone enabling the teeth to move into more ideal alignment.

To see how much pressure it takes to move teeth, and what it will feel like, try the following experiment. Press the index finger of your left hand lightly on the back of right hand. Apply just enough pressure to indent your skin and hold it for 30 seconds. What does it feel like? Not much right? Most of my patients say it just feels like light touch or pressure and it definitely does not hurt.

Now, remove your finger and look at your skin where you were pushing. It blanches and then turns red as the blood flow returns. With just 30 seconds of light pressure you started to bruise your skin. If you keep lightly pushing for 3 hours your skin will bruise.

This is exactly the same phenomenon that occurs with orthodontic tooth movement. You feel light pressure when the braces or invisalign are initially placed or adjusted and think, hmm, this is nothing, my friends are wimps. But in 3 hours, just like your skin, bruises will form around the roots of your teeth and they will start to ache - like they have been bruised.

This discomfort usually lasts 2-7days depending on age and personal sensory physiology. You should never feel anything sharp or pokey. If you do there is most likely a wire that needs to be trimmed. What ever you take for a headache should be adequate to control the initial discomfort.

And now you know the sensory physiology of orthodontic tooth movement :)