Updated on February 22, 2024
6 min read

Does Invisalign Treatment Hurt?

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Invisalign treatment can cause mild pain or discomfort, especially during the first week. Like braces, clear aligners such as Invisalign apply pressure to gradually realign your teeth, which can be uncomfortable as your teeth and gums grow accustomed to it.1

invisalign patient

The discomfort can be general, or it can be concentrated around a specific tooth. It generally subsides within the first few days of treatment.

You may be more likely to experience pain during Invisalign treatment if you have gingivitis, sensitive teeth, or a low pain tolerance in general.

How Long Does Invisalign Hurt?

You’ll most likely experience pain or discomfort your first few days with Invisalign. This is when your teeth are still getting used to the pressure applied by the trays. Though unpleasant, you can take it as a sign that your aligners are doing their job as intended.

A 2020 study found that clear aligner users experienced pain during the first 24 to 48 hours of wear but grew used to the aligners by the end of the week.2 Because Invisalign requires a new set of aligner trays every two to three weeks, the discomfort may return when you wear a new set.

As before, it should subside by the end of the week. In addition, each new set of aligners will likely hurt less than the last.

Straighten your teeth at a fraction of the cost. Learn about clear aligners.

What Does Invisalign Pain Feel Like?

Invisalign pain is typically described as tenderness or pressure. Usually, the discomfort is only noticeable while wearing the aligners. It can also occur when you take them in and out of your mouth to eat and for oral hygiene.

Why Do I Feel Pain in Just One Tooth?

Experiencing temporary pain in one tooth indicates that your aligners are working. One tooth may be especially misaligned, causing it to feel the brunt of the pressure from the aligners.

You may not experience pain in the same tooth with each aligner tray. Any discomfort should lessen within a few days.

8 Tips for Reducing Invisalign Pain 

While pain from Invisalign trays tends to be mild and temporary, some users may find it too uncomfortable. Here are some tips for reducing Invisalign pain:

1. Use Orthodontic Wax

If you experience gum pain from Invisalign, you may help lessen it with dental wax. To do this, apply a small amount of wax on the top edges of your aligners. Doing this can help lessen any friction that may be causing your gum pain.

2. Take OTC Medications

Consider taking over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for pain relief when the pain is most severe. OTC options include ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Always ask your doctor if it is safe to take OTC pain relievers, especially if you currently take any other medications or have underlying medical conditions.

3. Change How You Eat

For pain isolated to a single tooth, you can avoid placing more pressure on the area by not chewing on that side of your mouth. Continue to eat in this way until the pain subsides.

4. Keep Your Trays In

While it may be tempting to remove your aligners if you are in pain, this will only make the adjustment period even longer.

You should avoid removing your aligner trays for an extended period of time unless otherwise suggested by your orthodontist. Invisalign trays are meant to stay in place for 22 hours a day.

It’s also recommended that when it’s time to change to a new set of aligners, do so at night, before bed.

5. Suck on an Ice Cube

Sucking on a piece of ice can numb the painful area affected by Invisalign treatment. You do not need to remove your aligners when you do this. 

Be sure not to chew the ice cubes. Teeth can be more sensitive when biting into hard foods while wearing Invisalign. In addition, routinely chewing on ice can cause your teeth and any dental appliances you wear to chip over time.

You can get a similar benefit by drinking cold water, and this also doesn’t require you to take your aligners out.

6. Use an Ice Pack or Cold Compress

Placing an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables against your face temporarily relieves pain. You can do this several times throughout the day for up to 10 minutes at a time.

Do not place these items directly against your skin. Instead, you should wrap them in a towel to make a cold compress.

7. Use an Oral Numbing Gel

Various OTC numbing gels, such as Orajel, are available for tooth pain. You can remove your aligners to place some gel on the affected area. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package and wear your aligners once you’ve applied the gel.

Find the best at-home clear aligners for mild misalignment. See our expert recommendations.

When Should You See a Doctor About Invisalign Pain?

gloved hand putting clear aligners on patients teeth

You should speak with your orthodontist or dentist immediately if you experience:

  • Bleeding teeth or gums
  • Hot or cold sensitivity
  • Pain or discomfort when eating, drinking, or swallowing food
  • Pain accompanied by facial swelling

You should also speak with your orthodontist if your Invisalign trays continue to result in pain after a week’s use. If they are affecting your gums, they may be able to fix the aligners by filing down the top edges. 

Consider that there may be a risk of mild discomfort every time you change to new trays. However, if your pain is worse than your last set of aligners or worsens after a few days, speak with your orthodontist.

What to Do About Tooth Pain After Invisalign

If you experience persistent pain a few weeks after the completion of Invisalign treatment, call your orthodontist.

It’s not unusual to experience mild pain or a feeling of “looseness” in your teeth after finishing orthodontic treatment. But this usually settles down within a few weeks or even days.

Which Hurts More: Invisalign or Braces? 

Invisalign is generally thought to be less painful than braces. The clear plastic of the aligner trays may be more comfortable than metal brackets.

Research confirms this. Several studies have found that people wearing braces experienced more pain than those wearing Invisalign.2,3,4 People wearing braces were also more likely to report needing to use OTC pain medication.3,4

Some people find the metal brackets and wires used in traditional braces considerably uncomfortable due to sharp edges and protruding components. These features may also result in pain in your gums.

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Is Invisalign Worth it?

Any dental appliance can lead to pain and discomfort, including Invisalign. However, Invisalign is likely to be less painful overall when compared to traditional braces.

If you are concerned about pain with orthodontic appliances, Invisalign may be a better option than traditional metal braces. However, not everyone is a candidate for clear aligners, especially if you have severe teeth and/ or jaw misalignment.

If you are still wondering whether Invisalign is worth it, visit your orthodontist for an honest evaluation of your teeth. If Invisalign suits you and your requirements, your orthodontist will let you know.


Invisalign can be uncomfortable during the first few days. Pain or discomfort may also recur when you first put in a new set of aligners, even later in your treatment.

Fortunately, this tends to subside within a week. In the meantime, you can use orthodontic wax, OTC pain medication, and other methods to get relief.

Overall, Invisalign tends to be less painful than traditional braces. If you’re interested in Invisalign, talk to your orthodontist about whether you’re a candidate for treatment with clear aligners.

What’s Next?

Discover the best fit for your smile.

Explore top at-home clear aligner brands.

Last updated on February 22, 2024
9 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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