Does Invisalign® hurt? / Remedies and solutions.

You don't necessarily have to expect that wearing your Invisalign® aligners will be painful. At the same time, it's not uncommon for patients to notice some of minor aches or pains from time to time.

What types of discomfort are common?

So to give you some idea of what may take place, we've broken this topic down into categories. Each one includes a description of the source of the discomfort, and then some simple remedies and solutions for it.

More about wearing Invisalign®.
  1. Aligner fit / Tooth movement pain.
  2. Soft tissue irritation.
  3. Pain when eating.
  4. Controlling aligner pain with OTC pain relievers.

Aligner fit / tooth movement pain.

About half of all Invisalign® patients report that they've had at least some minor pain or discomfort during the course of their treatment. It's often described as a sense of pressure or tenderness.

If you do experience pain, it may involve all of your teeth, or only certain ones, or just certain areas. The discomfort may be related to the act of wearing your aligners, or possibly just triggered when you take them in and out.

Feeling pressure is a sign that your aligners are working.

If you do have some discomfort, you need to understand that, at least in part, this is simply evidence that the pressure needed to realign your teeth is in fact being generated. Experiencing it may not be fun but it's part of the process. [Use this link for more details : How do Invisalign® aligners create tooth movement?]

What are the chances that you'll have a problem?

To give you an idea of what to expect, here's what one study reported (Nedwed, 2005).

A group of Invisalign® patients were evaluated during their initial three to six months of treatment. During this time frame, 35% of the patients found they had no real discomfort with wearing their aligners whereas 54% did experience mild pain.

You'll probably have the most pain when you switch to a new set of aligners.

The discrepancy between the shape of an aligner and the current alignment of your teeth will be greatest when you first start wearing it. Then, over time, as your teeth begin to shift and conform, the fit of the aligner will become more relaxed and comfortable and your discomfort should subside.

That's exactly what the Nedwed study mentioned above found.

It was determined that a patient's pain was typically associated with the initial use of a new aligner. In most cases, this discomfort subsided within 2 to 3 days. Overall, 83% of the study's participants reported that they got used to wearing aligners within a week's time.

This remedy should help. - Make your switch to a new set of aligners at bedtime.

Something that you can do to help is switch to your new set of aligners right before you go to bed. That way you'll be asleep during those first several painful hours while your teeth begin to adjust. This approach can be especially effective in combination with the use of a bedtime over-the-counter analgesic (see below).

Sometimes it's the act of taking out a new set of aligners that's the most uncomfortable part. Once again, if you'll make your switch from one set to another at night, your teeth will have some hours of adjustment before your aligners have to be removed. Ibuprofen may help to alleviate orthodontic pain.

Try using an OTC pain reliever to help control your pain.

Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesics (NSAID's) can be an effective way to help to control aligner discomfort. Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), or even aspirin, can make a good choice.

These drugs work by inhibiting the formation of some of the compounds that help to stimulate body pain receptors. You can get a head start on this inhibitory effect by taking a dose an hour or so before you switch to your next set of aligners.

One study (Steen Law, 2000) found it beneficial to take ibuprofen 60 minutes before some types of orthodontic procedures (ones not dissimilar to switching to a new set of aligners).

Ask your dentist for their advice. And, of course, you will need to read and follow the directions and warnings that accompany any product that you choose so you know that it's an appropriate one for you.

Eating discomfort.

This topic is now discussed here: Invisalign® & Eating - Complications / Remedies.

Removable braces may cause gum or tongue irritation.

Sometimes the edge of an Invisalign® aligner will rub against your gums, cheek, tongue or the floor of your mouth. The Nedwed study referenced above found that 6% of its participants experienced this type of problem. Overall, however, it's likely that wearing Invisalign® aligners is less irritating to oral soft tissues than having other types of braces.

Seek your dentist's advice before adjusting an aligner yourself.

Obviously the needed remedy for this kind of problem is to smooth off or trim the offending aligner edge. But who will perform the adjustment, you or your dentist?

Before attempting to make an adjustment on your own (at least for the first time) you should contact your dentist's office for advice. Let them explain (or show you) what types of changes are acceptable.

Clearly the offending edge must be reduced but not so much that it compromises the aligner's fit on your teeth or its ability to create the tooth movement it was intended to produce. If you do damage an aligner, it will have to be remade. This will impose an added cost and delay to your treatment.

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