Did you know that pain is one of the main concerns that patients have in regards to orthodontic treatment? If you have had braces, you know that the brackets and wires are far from comfortable. Using invisible aligners as a method to straightening teeth does help to eliminate the cold sores and cheek bites that can happen with traditional braces, but this doesn't mean that clear aligners will be pain free.
Clear Aligners and Tooth Movement
The process of moving teeth can cause some level of discomfort for every patient. Invisible aligners use pressure to move teeth into their proper place. The discomfort felt from the pressure being applied to your teeth is completely normal. When you first start your clear aligners treatment, the clear aligner will fit quite tight. The directional pressure that is put on your teeth by the aligner is what will help to move your teeth into its next position. Most of this movement happens in the first day or two of wearing the aligner. Once your tooth reaches its new holding position in the aligner, you will continue to wear this aligner for the remaining of the two weeks. After the first two days of wearing the tray, the pressure usually subsides. You probably won't feel pressure until you get your next tray. Upon inserting the next tray, you again will likely feel the discomfort of pressure for the next day or two.
Also Read: What are Aligners and How it Works
Tongue or Gum Tissue Irritation
Another discomfort that patients occasionally note is that the aligner feels sharp to their tongue or that it is poking their tissue. This is not normal or common with the aligners. If you find this to be the case, it may be that there is a rough edge on your tray. If you do find this happening find comfort in that it is usually an easy fix. We know how painful and irritating these mouth sores can be, so we recommend that you schedule an appointment with your dental office to have it looked at. Usually your dentist is able to smooth the plastic's rough edge and usually your tissue will heal quickly. If you are unable to get to your dentist, you can try adding dental wax to the rough patch. We don't recommend making any adjustments to the tray on your own as this may harm your invisible tray or make tissue matters worse.
Can the Time of Day Affect Pain Levels?
You may notice that certain activities seem to cause more pressure on your mouth than others. Some activities, such as eating or drinking, may be more challenging in the first few days that you wear your aligner. It has been suggested that the best time to start wearing a new tray is just before bedtime. Putting a new invisible aligner tray in at night will allow 8 hours or so for the tray to settle.
Should I Avoid Routine Dental Check-ups and Cleanings While In Clear Aligners Treatment?
Not at all. It is actually very important to keep up with routine dental care while in treatment. In doing routine dental check-ups, your dentist will be able to monitor your teeth for decay as well as monitor your gum tissue for good health. Your dentist can also make any adjustments at this appointment to your aligner if it seems to be irritating your tongue or gum tissue. He or she will check existing restorations and make sure that everything is looking good. Routine cleanings are also important as maintaining good oral hygiene can be a little more challenging when wearing invisible aligners. Your hygienist will evaluate your homecare and be able to give you additional pointers for keeping things clean.
What Food is Best to Eat if My Aligners Are Hurting Me?
If you find that you are having discomfort or sensitivity from your clear aligners, it can be beneficial to eat cold foods. Cold foods can be soothing to the tissue whereas hot foods can be more irritating in areas of inflammation or irritation. If you find chewing to be difficult due to it putting added pressure on your already sore mouth, you might find it helpful to stick with foods that are softer in nature for a day or two. Although, studies show that the more you use your mouth, the more quickly your teeth will move into their new positions. Chewing food can be a great way to use your mouth and exercise it!
Can Anything Else Be Done for the Discomfort and Sensitivity That I Feel?
There are a few things that you can try to help boost your comfort level. Your mouth will adjust naturally to treatment over time which means you may find yourself less sore with time. If you still need a boost in comfort, swishing with warm salt water rinse can be soothing for the tissue.
You can easily make a warm salt water rinse by adding half a teaspoon salt to 1 cup of warm water. Ice packs can also be used and they are helpful in reducing inflammation. Sucking on an ice chip may also have the same cooling sensation in your mouth. Over-the-counter painkillers can also help especially when first beginning treatment of invisible aligners. Different people do better or worse with different over-the-counter painkillers so choose the one that works best for you. You should follow the directions printed on the bottle for pain relief.
When it comes to invisible aligners, it's important to remember that there will be some discomfort. While discomfort is a normal part of the moving teeth process, you now have several things that you can try to keep yourself most comfortable. If pain is due to roughness on your aligner, we encourage you to avoid self-adjustments at home as this can damage the aligner or irritate your tissue more. We don't want you to let discomfort keep you from getting the smile that you want.
We hope that this article has given you the tools that you need for comfortable clear aligners treatment. Are you ready to schedule your next appointment for invisible aligners?