Clear dental aligners are popular alternatives to traditional braces because they use clear plastic instead of metal. Invisalign is one such brand of these types of orthodontic devices.
While Invisalign may be more comfortable than metal braces, there’s still a chance that you may experience mild pain or discomfort.
According to Penn Dental Medicine Family Practice, the potential for pain seems to be greatest within the first week of using invisible teeth aligners.
Pain experienced from Invisalign is also dependent on individual pain tolerance. It’s even possible to experience no pain at all.
If you experience pain for longer than a week after first using your aligners, this could indicate a more serious condition you should have your orthodontist check.
Learn more about your own risk of Invisalign pain and all the risk factors you should discuss with your orthodontist before committing to these dental aligners.
Invisalign may cause mild pain at first because the device is designed to help gradually straighten your teeth alignment.
Pain in the first week
Any pain or discomfort you feel from Invisalign tends to be temporary, with the greatest risk being within the first week of using your new aligners.
In fact, one small 2005 study found that 83 percent of invisible aligner users grew accustomed to the dental aligners within a week.
Amount of pain
In terms of pain, such experiences are reportedly mild and temporary overall. The same study above reported that 54 percent of invisible aligner wearers experienced mild pain, while 35 percent didn’t experience pain.
One of the biggest complaints of Invisalign wearers was discomfort during chewing. Additionally, the study above reported that 44 percent of users reported this symptom.
Overall, such statistics suggest that Invisalign causes mild and temporary pain overall, and not every user will have pain. However, you may be more likely to experience pain from dental aligners if you have:
- a lower tolerance to pain overall
- sensitive teeth
- sensitive gums and gingivitis
Pain in one tooth
It’s also possible to experience temporary pain in just one tooth. This is usually an indication that your aligners are doing their job by gradually adjusting your teeth.
You may not feel pain in the same tooth with each aligner tray change, and any discomfort should go away within a few days.
According to Penn Dental Medicine Family Practice, users reporting pain from Invisalign said that the symptoms lasted 2 to 3 days following new aligner installation.
Since Invisalign requires new trays every 2 weeks, it’s possible to experience mild pain and discomfort within the first few days of each cycle.
However, as you grow accustomed to wearing your aligners, it’s possible for these symptoms to become less pronounced.
Overall, it’s thought that Invisalign hurts less than traditional braces, which are also called “fixed appliances.”
Invisalign helps realign your teeth with plastic instead of metal wires and brackets. The clear plastic used to make Invisalign may be more comfortable to wear.
One small 2017 study evaluated adults wearing traditional braces and Invisalign. Researchers found that the former group experienced more pain overall.
Furthermore, the first group was more likely to take medications for pain relief during the first week of wearing fixed braces.
Still, it’s also possible to become accustomed to both types of dental appliances.
Even if you experience pain at the start of your new trays every couple of weeks, the entire Invisalign process doesn’t take as long as metal braces — 12 to 18 months versus up to 5 years, the American Dental Association says.
Moreover, some people find the metal and wire used in traditional braces to be uncomfortable due to sharp edges and protruding parts. These may also cause pain against your gums.
It’s possible to experience mild pain in the following areas of your body within the first week of wearing your new aligners:
However, the pain should not be severe or enough to significantly interfere with your daily activities. You should call your dentist right away if you experience:
- bleeding teeth or gums
- hot or cold sensitivity
- pain when eating, drinking, or swallowing food
- pain accompanied by facial swelling
While any pain from Invisalign tends to be mild and temporary, some people may find it’s too uncomfortable to let it run its course.
However, there are solutions if you’re extremely uncomfortable when wearing your Invisalign trays.
Try dental wax
If you’re experiencing gum pain from Invisalign, you may help alleviate it with the help of dental wax.
To do this, apply a small amount of wax to the top edges of your aligners, where these tend to be the roughest. Lubricating the edges can help reduce any friction that may be causing your gum pain.
Take OTC medications
You may also consider taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications for pain relief during the first few days when pain is the most severe. Options include acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), or aspirin.
However, be sure to ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to take OTC pain relievers, especially if you take other medications or have any underlying medical conditions.
Change how you eat
For pain that’s isolated to one tooth only, you can prevent placing more pressure in the area by avoiding eating on that side of your mouth. Continue until the pain gets starts to dissipate.
Keep your trays in
Finally, you should avoid taking out the aligners for any extended period of time, unless otherwise recommended by your orthodontist. Invisalign is intended to be worn at least 22 hours a day.
While it’s tempting to take off your aligners if you’re in pain, doing so could actually decrease your overall pain tolerance to the trays.
You should call your orthodontist for help if your Invisalign trays continue to cause pain after a week’s use.
They may be able to adjust the aligners themselves by filing down the top edges if they are irritating your gums, for example.
Keep in mind that there may be a risk of mild discomfort every time you switch to new trays at the end of 2 weeks.
However, if the pain is worse than your last set, or continues to get worse after a few days, you should call your orthodontist.
In the case of persistent pain, your orthodontist may adjust your trays so that they fit more comfortably.
Any dental appliance can cause pain and discomfort, including Invisalign, a popular brand name of clear alignment devices.
However, unlike traditional braces, Invisalign is thought to be less painful overall. These devices may also correct teeth alignment faster than metal braces.
If you’re concerned about pain with dental appliances, Invisalign may be a better solution than fixed metal braces.
Keep in mind that individual experiences vary, and that any pain and discomfort with Invisalign is more likely within the first few days of your new trays you must swap out every 2 weeks.
Contact your orthodontist if you experience ongoing or worsening pain while using Invisalign.