Invisalign presents itself as a successful alternative to the conventional orthodontic method of braces. Granting patients an elevated level of flexibility and freedom as their teeth shift formation- resulting in a beautiful smile at a more efficient pace. 

It’s Going to Hurt a Bit!

Being similar to braces, any process which forces your teeth to reposition is bound to be associated with some amount of discomfort or pain. While not uncommon, every individual will experience these symptoms differently. The sensations are felt uniquely, and are dependent on:

  • The starting point of your teeth.
  • How drastically they must shift.
  • How well you can tolerate pain.

It should be noted, if pain persists after the first week or so of using your new Invisalign aligner, it could potentially be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. You should be in contact with your dental professional immediately so they may analyze your specific scenario.

An Unavoidable Feature

In regards to the pain itself- it’s a necessary evil associated with any orthodontic procedure. Most patients report mild and temporary pain, with one study indicating 54% feeling mild pain, while 35% reported no pain whatsoever. One of the most common discomforts associated with the early stages of wearing Invisalign aligners is mild irritation when chewing, being reported by 44% of these patients.

Remain mindful that not all studies are completely accurate, and while many report some type of uncomfortable sensations, the amount of pain you’ll experience is determined by individual factors specific to you. Namely:

  • How high is your pain tolerance? 
  • Your overall teeth and gum sensitivity. 
  • Various oral health factors like gingivitis.

It’s also possible to detect temporary pain in just one specific tooth, usually indicating that your Invisalign aligners are functioning correctly, and gradually adjusting your teeth with time.

The Expected Timeframe

Most patients report symptoms of pain subsiding about two to three days after their new aligner is installed. As Invisalign operates as a step-by-step system, swapping out newly modified aligners that match your teeth’s progression about every two weeks, it’s possible to experience some form of discomfort with each new cycle. On the other hand, some patients grow accustomed to this process and eventually are numb to the pain as the cycle continues.

It’s generally accepted that Invisalign is less painful than traditional braces.

Since the process does not require a fixed appliance to correct the position of your teeth, it is much less invasive- using a guiding approach, instead of a forceful one. And fully capable of achieving the same results with customized and evolving plastic trays, instead of metal wires and brackets.

Research has pointed towards more patients consuming pain medication in the first weeks of braces instead of Invisalign. Also consider that Invisalign works more efficiently, and generally requires a shorter timeframe to be completed. 

On a positive note, the vast majority of pain subsides completely after the first three months of either orthodontic process.

Types of Pain

While usually completely manageable, the pain which occurs within the first few days is typically the most unpleasant. This mild pain is most frequently felt within your jaw, teeth, and even tongue!

Beyond the standard and expected pain, you must keep track of any other types of discomfort you may be experiencing. Especially if your daily activities are becoming significantly impacted.  Watch out for:

  • Bleeding gums or teeth
  • Extreme sensitivity to temperature
  • Pain when eating, drinking, or swallowing
  • Pain alongside facial swelling

If you experience any of these, then this is beyond what’s typically expected. Get in contact with your dental professional immediately to rectify these problems!

Fighting Back

There are ways to treat both normal and abnormal pain concerning the Invisalign process. If you express your discomfort to your dental professional, they can both suggest and utilize a plethora of methods to alleviate you as much as possible.

Dental Wax

Applying a small amount of dental wax at the top edges of your aligners, where they tend to be roughest. This actively combats gum pain and irritation by limiting friction through lubrication.

Over the Counter (OTC) Medication

Over the counter pain relief medications are not uncommon during the initial few days after the procedure when the pain is most severe. These typically consist of either Advil, Aspirin, or Tylenol. Be sure to consult your dentist when doing this, as certain medications may interfere with other underlying medical issues you may have.

Taking it Like a Champ

Be strategic with your pain, fight back by adopting new methods to ensure you may avoid feeling it as much as possible. This can take the form of avoiding the use of one particular side of your mouth when chewing, only consuming foods you’re completely comfortable with consuming, and so on.

Know When Something’s Not Right

It’s easy to find yourself desperate to alleviate pain, as nobody wants a thorn in their side (or jaw) provoking them. It’s crucial to not take shortcuts! The pain is unfortunately a necessary part of the initial process. Adopting compromising methods to avoid it in the short term may steer you off the correct path, leading to even more inevitable pain down the road. You must wear your aligners at least twenty-two hours a day, and follow all of the other guidelines established by your dental professional.

If you find any pain to be unbearable, or identify with any of the severe conditions highlighted above, please get in touch with your dentist immediately! 

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