man in blue shirt wearing invisalign

Does Invisalign Hurt? Here’s What the Experts Have to Say

If you’re thinking about straightening your teeth, you probably have one question on the top of your mind: does Invisalign hurt? The bottom line is yes; clear aligner treatment is uncomfortable, and the pain can come from several factors, all of which we will discuss in this blog. 

Every patient is different, but the good news is that most Invisalign pain subsides as you progress in your treatment, and there are things you can do to make your Invisalign hurt less. Read on for an in depth discussion of the following topics, so you can learn how to take care of yourself during your Invisalign treatment:

  • Why Does Invisalign Hurt?
  • What Hurts More, Invisalign or Braces? 
  • What You Can Do to Treat Invisalign Discomfort

Animated gif demonstrating how to use Movemints clear aligner mints

Why Does Invisalign Hurt?

The answer to this question typically depends on who you ask. Some people experience discomfort when they first receive their trays and then again when they switch to new ones. This is because each set of aligners are slowly moving your teeth into their ideal position. The amount of force required to move teeth is significant, but the longer you wear each set of trays, the more your mouth adjusts to the pressure. For most patients, the discomfort of tight trays subsides after a few days. 

Pain from Different Types of Clear Aligners

Other patients experience pain from the clear aligners themselves. Because invisible braces force your teeth into new positions, they have to be hard and durable. Each tray is made of molded plastic, and depending on the type of Invisalign treatment you choose, the trim line of your aligners can vary significantly. The more plastic that is left on your set of trays can create more friction points in your mouth. This can cause mouth pain or even lead to Invisalign cutting your tongue. Patients can deal with these issues using dental wax or filing rough spots, giving them a measure of Invisalign pain relief.

Pain Caused by Changing Bite Patterns

Another reason Invisalign hurts is due to changes in your bite patterns caused by tooth movement. While you consume food throughout your treatment, you’ll find that different teeth are relied upon to chew and swallow your food. These teeth aren’t normally used to mash and grind food, and their new workload causes tooth and gum soreness. But not to worry; eventually your mouth grows accustomed to these new patterns, and as your teeth and gums get stronger the pain will subside. 

Pain Caused By Individual Treatment Demands

Finally, pain can vary based on the needs of your individual smile. If you require minor straightening, your teeth won’t have to move as far, and your pain will be mild. More severe cases require greater force, and even tooth extractions or alterations to your bone structure. These cases often require Invisalign attachments to be applied to your trays, giving them extra grip and assistance for moving your teeth. As the attachments protrude from your trays, they can create additional friction points where abrasions and mouth sores can occur.

5 Tips for Treating Invisalign Discomfort

Patient with a Tooth Ache

Does your Invisalign hurt during treatment? As we discussed above, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to ease the pain and discomfort from wearing your clear aligners. Here's our top five, as recommended by orthodontic experts.

1. Chew on Movemints® Clear Aligner Mints

Some Invisalign patients find that lightly chewing on certain foods has helped ease their pain and discomfort, just like with teething babies. In fact, the simple act of chewing causes an increase of blood flow to your gums, which acts as a natural pain reliever. But you can’t eat food with your aligners in, so our founder, an orthodontist, created Movemints Clear Aligner Mints as an alternative to Invisalign chewies. Our aligner-friendly mints have a patented shape that fits between your trays, and are hard enough to withstand the gentle chewing exercises that orthodontists recommend to provide Invisalign pain relief.

Movemints are an edible alternative to chewies that you might have been given at the start of your treatment. Not only do they help with Invisalign pain, they also help seat the trays properly on your teeth. If your aligners are loose or feel like they aren’t fitting correctly, they won’t move teeth effectively. Movemints are safe to eat while wearing your aligners because they are sweetened with a therapeutic dose of xylitol which improves your dental health while fighting Invisalign dry mouth

Hands showing the difference between Invisalign chewies and Movemints clear aligner mints

2. Use a cold compress or drink cold water to provide localized relief

If you are experiencing dull pain or soreness from clear aligners, we recommend placing a cold compress against your cheek where the pain occurs. This will provide temporary relief for most of the teeth, jaw, or gum pain associated with treatment. If you use ice to help soothe the pain and inflammation, remember to avoid keeping it against your face for over 20 minutes at a time. You’ll also want to wrap it in a towel to help keep your skin safe. 

Drinking cold water and sucking on some ice cubes can also ease any pain and discomfort you are experiencing. Water is safe to drink while wearing your trays (and highly encouraged!), to these techniques can alleviate pain while also reducing inflammation inside your mouth during the 22 hours of daily recommended wear time. If you tend to experience pain after removing your aligners, it might be helpful to swish some cold water around your mouth or suck on some ice cubes before brushing your teeth or eating. 

3. Address rough edges using dental wax or a nail file

If rough edges on your trays are creating mouth sores and abrasions, you can use dental wax for Invisalign to cover those areas and protect yourself from the pain. Soften a small pinch of the wax between your fingers, then apply it to the area(s) of concern. This little hack can be a real lifesaver for Invisalign patients, but sometimes it doesn’t do the trick. If you find that to be the case, ask your orthodontist if they can file down the rough edges. If you are using at-home clear aligner treatment or can’t get to your orthodontist in time, you can attempt to file your own aligners with a nail file. But use caution with this approach, being extra careful not to bend or warp your trays.

Another tip for soothing mouth sores and abrasions is to use a peroxide mouthwash. Peroxide is an oral debriding agent and can numb the pain you feel. It will also clean and disinfect the mouth sores, helping them heal more quickly.

4. Avoid hard or crunchy foods that are difficult to chew

As stated above, clear aligner treatment causes changes to your bite pattern, placing new stress and pressure on teeth that aren’t used to the requirements of chewing and grinding your food. Hard foods that are difficult to chew are especially difficult for new bite patterns and can cause your Invisalign to hurt even more. If you find yourself experiencing more pain and discomfort than normal, take a break from eating hard and crunchy foods like raw carrots or apples. Let your teeth and dental tissues rest instead by opting for foods like soup, smoothies, pastas and oatmeal, especially when you change to a new set of trays. 

5. Switch your clear aligner trays before bedtime

Switching to a new pair of trays soon? Make the switch before bedtime. The initial hours of wearing a new pair of Invisalign trays can be particularly painful. Switching your trays before bedtime allows you to sleep through some of this initial discomfort. If approved by your doctor, taking ibuprofen before bedtime while switching trays can provide more relief when the pain feels particularly intolerable.

If you’ve ever wondered, “Does Invisalign hurt?” you aren’t alone. At Dental Movemints, we understand that your Invisalign journey will have some bumps along the way. Luckily for you, we’re here to help every step of the way with the Invisalign tips and tricks you need to answer every question you have about treatment. We also offer a complete line of invisible braces accessories to help you enjoy a more comfortable, confident smile journey.

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