Are you on your journey to a straighter, more confident smile with Invisalign or clear aligners, but struggling with discomfort along the way? Based on my time as a Registered Dental Assistant, I share with you the advice I've given to my own patients to ensure you have all the tools to make your orthodontic journey as painless as possible.
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Is Clear Aligner Treatment Painful?
As a registered dental assistant and treatment coordinator, almost all of my patients ask if Invisalign or clear aligner treatment will hurt. I’d look them straight in the eye and tell them, YES. It’s going to hurt. It should hurt! We’re moving your teeth through your jaw into a straighter position. BUT, it won’t hurt as much as you think. Because unlike braces, where big movements happen at every adjustment, micromovements are made with each new aligner tray, so it makes the whole teeth moving process significantly less painful.
Which tray is the most painful tray?
The most painful is usually your very first aligner. Your teeth maybe haven't moved in decades, if ever, and there hasn’t been any changes in your mouth since you lost your baby teeth and then all of a sudden, you start your Invisalign treatment. The first tray will feel the tightest, and where you will most likely feel the most pressure.
The good news is that the pain usually subsides after 2-4 days after the initial set, and the soreness you feel with each new aligner tray after will be shorter (1-3 days). I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had patients ask us if their aligners are still working because they don’t feel any pain and we’d tell them that since their teeth are now used to moving, every new aligner tray they put in will feel less painful. So many would respond by saying: “I miss the pain”!
With that being said, here are 10 effective tips to help reduce Invisalign / Clear Aligner pain:
1. Wear your aligners: Although it might seem like common sense, wearing your aligners is the best way to reduce the pain. Some claim that they felt less pain by putting their aligners on for a little longer and taking them out less frequently.
2. Use a hot/cold compress over cheeks and jaws: Alternating between a hot and cold compress helps to relieve pain and relax tense jaw muscles.
3. Massage your jaws: massage your jaws from your chin and up towards the earlobes. This helps to relieve pain and relax tense jaw muscles.
4. Eat soft foods: Soft foods minimize strain on your teeth and jaws during these first few days of discomfort. Eat soft foods like eggs, soft bread, oatmeal, tofu.
5. Use Aligner Removal Tools: Aligner removal tools helps to swiftly remove aligner trays and greatly reduces the pain involved when you’re struggling to remove your aligners which can feel agonizingly slow when you’re in pain. Using a removal tool like the PUL ME is like ripping off a band-aid instead of pulling your aligners off slowly.
6. Use Aligner Seating Tools: Using Aligner Seating Tools like the BITE ME 2 in 1 Aligner Seating and Removal Tool helps to massage your gums and help reduce soreness that is typically caused by new aligners. Bite down and around from one side of your mouth to the other with your trays in for a few minutes every time you put your aligners in.
7. Switching to New Aligner Trays: Switch to your next aligner tray, after your last meal (brush and floss first!). Constantly removing your aligners for eating, drinking or brushing your teeth will make your teeth feel more sore. Switching to a new tray after you’re done eating for the day will help your teeth get used to the new movements better.
8. Dealing with Roughness: If any part of your aligner is rough, feel free to use a clean nail file or piece of sandpaper to smooth the edge. Please contact your dental office if you feel that part of the aligner plastic needs to be cut off with scissors.
9. Treating Aligner Related Canker Sores: Canker sores can occur from new attachments rubbing against the inside of your mouth while eating or talking without your aligners. Your mouth is going to need some time to get used to the new attachments on your teeth. Keeping your aligners in as much as possible will help your canker sores heal and callous over so that your mouth gets used to having attachments. Gargle with a warm salt water rinse to help them heal faster or use a canker sore aid such as Zilactin.
10. OTC Pain Relievers: If all else fails, try an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen to avoid discomfort. This is especially helpful when you switch to new aligner trays. Ask your doctor if you are taking new medications and don’t forget to follow its instructions and suggested dosage!
To wrap things up, embarking on an Invisalign or clear aligner journey brings with it the promise of a beautifully aligned smile, but it's important to acknowledge that discomfort can be a part of the process. Remember, as your teeth gradually adjust, the initial discomfort you encounter with the first aligner is a testament to the transformation underway. By implementing these 10 practical tips, you can significantly minimize the discomfort and soreness associated with each new tray. Your dedication to proper wear, coupled with these strategies, will ensure that the path to your desired smile is as smooth and pain-free as possible.
Stay committed, stay confident, and before you know it, you'll be reveling in the newfound confidence of your perfectly aligned teeth. If you ever have concerns or questions, don't hesitate to reach out to your dental professional for guidance or leave a comment. Your smile's journey is unique, and each step, even those accompanied by a touch of discomfort, is a testament to your commitment to self-improvement.