Managing Invisalign® Pain
One of the many benefits of Invisalign® treatment is that it is a relatively comfortable and gentle way to straighten misaligned teeth. That is not to say, however, that Invisalign is a promise for pain-free straightening in every individual who undergoes the process. Although rare, some patients do experience Invisalign pain to a certain degree throughout the course of treatment.
The type and severity of pain that each Invisalign patient experiences can vary from individual to individual. Some will feel no pain at all, while others experience rather intense discomfort throughout the mouth. And then there are those who fall somewhere in between – feeling either a bit of pressure or some dull pain, or even a combination of the two. Luckily, any pain associated with the process tends to be short-lived, and treatment options are simple and effective.
For those who do experience Invisalign pain, the majority of the discomfort comes just after the first set of aligners (clear plastic trays that are worn over the teeth) is inserted. Due to the nature of the Invisalign process, the trays fit very snugly over the teeth as they work to gradually guide the teeth into proper alignment, and that can cause those feelings of pressure or overall discomfort in the mouth.
Similarly, the same type of Invisalign pain can occur every time a new aligner is inserted, which is typically once every two weeks or as prescribed by the patient's dentist. With each new set of trays comes a new, tighter fit and further shifting of the teeth. Any discomfort is minimized over time as the teeth begin to move into their newly aligned positions.
Regardless of what stage you’re at in your Invisalign treatment, any pain and/or discomfort you feel is likely to last for only a few hours at most. An over-the-counter analgesic such as Advil or Motrin can help minimize this tightness for those that need the relief.
"After inserting a new set of aligners, you might have some tightness and discomfort, but it dissipates after an hour or two hours,” says Richard M. Weledniger, DDS, FICOI, FIADFE, of Melville, NY. “When you change into your new set of aligners, we recommend inserting them before you go to sleep. And by the time you get up in the morning, the 'newness' will be gone as well as most of the tight feeling. Another advantage of inserting your new aligners before sleep is that the aligners will stay in your mouth for a solid six to eight hours, which increases the efficiency of your initial wearing of this new set of aligners."
Considering how rare Invisalign pain is and how easily treated it is when discomfort does occur, this is one case in which the final result – a straight, healthy smile that requires fewer invasive dental procedures down the road – considerably outweighs the side effects of the treatment in most cases. And especially when taking into account the emotional and physical pain that an uneven smile can cause in a person’s life, a couple hours of slight discomfort every two weeks has rarely been known to dissuade a patient from choosing Invisalign.
"As a matter of fact, patients suffering from their unhappy smiles are highly motivated. Our patients report minimum-to-really-no discomfort with their aligners," says Dr. Weledniger. "It might be a tooth out of position. It might be a gap. It might just be the visual crowded 'jumbled' teeth that bring our patients to us for Invisalign. We have seen and continue to see amazing transformations into more beautiful smiles for patients that have never really been able to smile before. For many, this is a life-changing experience. It literally can have positive effects on personality and business success. A healthy smile can contribute very highly for social interactions."
This article was created by the Top Dentists editorial team.