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Does Invisalign Hurt?

This is one of our most frequently asked questions. In truth, while Invisalign is designed to be more comfortable than metal braces, there will be some level of soreness and adjustment as you begin and progress through your treatment. 

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Invisalign Benefits

When compared to traditional metal braces, Invisalign excels by avoiding the presence of poking wires and rough brackets. The plastic trays are commonly switched weekly, which ensures the movements that can sometimes cause pain are as minimal and comfortable as possible in each tray. Our office is currently treating 90% of our patients with Invisalign for this benefit alone. While some still associate orthodontic treatment with tightening wires and unbearable pain, Invisalign discomfort is typically mild, with symptoms subsiding within the first two weeks. 

What to Expect

After your first appointment, you can expect some aches and soreness by the first evening as your teeth begin to move. Even if you’ve had orthodontic treatment in the past, there will be a short adjustment period in the beginning as your teeth and gums adapt to the trays. This feeling should subside within a few days to two weeks past your initial Invisalign appointment. 

Once you are actively in Invisalign treatment, your new trays should be fairly comfortable and should have minimal movements. They may be slightly tight and click into place, but should not come with much discomfort. With that said, since each tray is unique, there may be times when you experience additional soreness when switching to a new tray. This soreness is normal and should not last for more than a few days. 

You may experience slight tooth sensitivity throughout the duration of Invisalign treatment. This can be caused by individual tooth movements, changes in your bite, or by clenching onto the aligners themselves. This sensitivity is normal and should not last for more than two weeks. This feeling may also be more common in the mornings as we tend to clench or grind on the plastic trays during sleep naturally. If you have specific tooth sensitivity that lasts more than two weeks, be sure to notify your doctor so they can evaluate accordingly. 

Along with the Invisalign trays, we use tooth-colored composite material called “attachments” to help facilitate movements. These attachments are bonded to your teeth and will typically remain throughout your treatment. When receiving your initial set of attachments, or anytime a new one is added, they will typically rub against the inside of your lips while eating. You may experience some discomfort from attachments, but they should not create an ulcer or canker sore. If you do experience any ulcering, please notify your doctor so they can adjust your aligners accordingly. 

How Long Does it Hurt?

The answer to this question will vary depending on your individual treatment plan. After your first appointment, you should only experience soreness for a few days to two weeks. Following this, you may encounter some minor soreness upon switching into a new tray, but this should not last for more than a day or two. 

If your bite is being shifted during treatment, you will likely be using elastic bands along with your Invisalign aligners. These bands are used to move your teeth forward and backward, which is known as bite correction. The goal of bite correction is to attain a functional and stable bite, where your top and bottom teeth meet together perfectly. During this process, your teeth may become sensitive, and certain teeth may experience more sensitivity than others. This feeling should go away within two weeks as your bite continues to shift into a more stable position.

How to Relieve Pain from Invisalign

When you receive your first set of Invisalign, you may find your teeth hurting, sore, or sensitive. While this pain should subside naturally within two weeks, if you’re looking for pain relief, we recommend taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed by your doctor. Please consult with your orthodontist or general physician before taking medication during treatment. 

As your bite shifts, you may also experience some jaw soreness. This can usually be remedied with regular jaw muscle exercises, massages, or by using a warm compress daily. If your jaw pain persists, you may consider an auxiliary appliance known as the Gentle Jaw®, which can aid with daily muscle exercises. 

If your Invisalign attachments cause ulcers during your first two weeks of treatment, we recommend a daily warm salt-water rinse, which may aggravate the pain, but can help with the healing process. Please be sure to let your doctor know if you experience any cuts or ulcers during treatment. 

When to Make an Appointment 

While initial and occasional soreness is common, it should not continue throughout the entirety of your treatment. We typically see soreness subside within two weeks from your first appointment or a few days after switching to a new aligner. If your discomfort persists or becomes worse over time, your orthodontist may need to decelerate movements for a slower and gentler treatment experience. 

While your lips and tongue quickly adapt to treatment, your gums should not be affected. Invisalign is specifically designed to be contoured to your gum-line based on an in-depth digital impression. If you experience any sharp cuts, pressure, or irritation to your gums, contact your provider immediately so that they may tailor your Invisalign trays, or order new trays for a better fit. 

Jaw pain, or TMJ pain, may occur during orthodontic treatment and will likely subside within days or weeks. It is often caused by increased clenching or grinding during treatment and is almost always related to tightness of the jaw muscles. If you are experiencing moderate jaw pain, or find your jaw pain to be persisting longer than two weeks, your treatment may require collaboration with a TMJ specialist. If you are thinking about pursuing Invisalign and have current or recent TMJ symptoms, consult with your general dentist or TMJ specialist before committing to orthodontic treatment. 

It is important to remember that you are unique and will experience treatment in your own unique way. Some patients may progress through Invisalign with no discomfort, whereas others find it slightly more difficult. We do not wish to discredit anyone’s individual thoughts or feelings during their Invisalign journey. If you ever feel curious or concerned during your orthodontic treatment, we encourage you to contact your treating orthodontist for more information.

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