Pain from Invisalign (Clear Aligners)

erica medical reviewer
Medically Reviewed
by Dr. Erica Anand
Ellie Swain
Written by
Ellie Swain
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Evidence Based
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6 sources cited
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Key Takeaways 

  • Invisalign treatment can lead to pain and discomfort. However, it is usually less painful than the use of traditional braces.
  • Individual experiences with Invisalign pain vary.
  • Invisalign pain usually subsides within a few days.
  • There are various ways to reduce Invisalign pain.
  • Invisalign pain is more likely to occur within the first few days of wearing new trays.
  • Contact your orthodontist if you experience worsening or ongoing pain while using Invisalign.

Does Invisalign Hurt?

Invisalign aligners are a popular alternative to traditional braces. This is mainly because they use clear plastic instead of metal wires, which are more noticeable.

Invisalign trays are usually more comfortable than metal braces.4 However, there is still a chance you may experience mild pain or discomfort.

The potential for mild discomfort and pain seems to be most significant within the first week of Invisalign treatment.

Pain experienced from Invisalign trays also depends on your pain tolerance. Some patients do not experience any Invisalign aligner pain at all.

If you experience Invisalign gum pain for longer than a week after the first use, this could suggest a more serious condition like the aligner not fitting properly. In these cases, you should meet with your orthodontist.

To learn more about your risk for pain from aligner trays, speak with your orthodontist.

How Long Does Invisalign Pain Last?

Invisalign treatment may cause mild pain initially. This is because the devices are designed to help gradually straighten teeth.

If you experience Invisalign pain, it is usually temporary. The most significant risk is within the first week of starting a new set of aligners.

One small 2005 study discovered that 83 percent of clear aligner users grew used to wearing the device within a week.1

Invisalign patients usually experience pain symptoms lasting between two and three days following a new set. Invisalign requires new trays every two weeks

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The discomfort can come and go over the course of treatment. It is also normal for only one or two teeth to hurt at one time. 

As you grow used to wearing your aligners, these symptoms may become less noticeable.

It is recommended to change your aligner trays before bed. Doing so makes the adjustment process easier than changing the trays in the morning. 

9 Tips to Reduce Invisalign Soreness  

Some patients find Invisalign soreness too uncomfortable to let it run its course. However, there are ways to reduce Invisalign pain if you feel uncomfortable wearing your aligner trays.

1. Use dental wax

Dental wax can help provide Invisalign pain relief. To use dental wax, apply a small amount to the top edge of your clear aligners. This is where the aligners tend to be the roughest.

Lubricating the edges of your aligner trays can reduce any friction that may cause discomfort. 

2. Take OTC medications 

Over-the-counter pain medication can help with Invisalign pain during the first few days when discomfort is the most severe.

Options include:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Aspirin

Be sure to discuss with your doctor whether it is safe for you to take OTC pain relievers. This is especially true if you take other medications or have any underlying health conditions.

3. Adjust how you eat

For Invisalign molar pain isolated to one tooth only, you can stop placing pressure in the painful area. To do this, you must avoid eating on that side of your mouth. Continue this until the pain reduces.

4. Suck on ice cubes

Sucking ice cubes helps 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. Chewing on hard ice may result in unnecessary pain. Teeth can become sensitive when biting into hard foods while wearing Invisalign. 

5. Drink cold water

Drink cold water to reduce Invisalign pain. You can drink while wearing your aligners, so you do not need to take them out. 

Avoid sugary beverages like juice or soda. These drinks can cause cavities. They are also damaging to your teeth.

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6. Use Orajel

Orajel is a topical pain killer. You can apply it directly to your teeth or gums where you feel pain or soreness. It will temporarily numb the sore area.

Be sure to remove your Invisalign device so you can apply the Orajel directly to the painful area.

7. Avoid certain foods

When your teeth are sore, you should avoid hard foods like nuts or crackers. Eating hard food particles can be painful when you chew them.

Stick to soft foods that will not cause you pain when you eat. 

For example:

  • Bread
  • Hummus
  • Tuna
  • Hard-boiled eggs

8. Use an ice pack or cold item

Placing a cold item against your skin helps reduce swelling and numbs any pain. 

You can use the following for up to ten minutes a time to reduce Invisalign pain:

  • Cold compress
  • Ice pack
  • Bag of frozen vegetables

Do not place any of these items directly against your skin. Instead, you should wrap any ice in a piece of cloth or towel. 

You can use a cold compress or cold item against your skin several times throughout the day.

9. Keep your trays in

You should avoid removing your aligners for an extended period unless recommended by your orthodontist.

Invisalign must be worn at least 22 hours a day. It may be tempting to remove your aligners if you experience pain. However, in doing so, you could decrease your pain tolerance to the trays.

When is Invisalign Pain Concerning? 

It is possible to experience mild Invisalign pain in the following areas of your body within the first week of wearing your aligners:

  • Teeth
  • Jaw 
  • Tongue

However, the pain should not be painful or enough to affect your daily activities significantly.

You should call your dentist immediately if you experience:

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

When to See Your Dentist or Orthodontist 

You should also call your dentist or orthodontist for help if your trays continue to cause pain after a week’s use. They may adjust the aligners by filing down the top edges if they are painful to your gums.

Be aware that there may be a risk of mild discomfort every time you switch to new aligners every two weeks. However, if the pain is worse than your last set of trays, you should call your orthodontist. The same goes if the pain continues to worsen after a few days.

If you experience persistent pain, your orthodontist may adjust your trays to fit more comfortably.

Tooth Pain After Finishing Invisalign: What to Do 

You may experience tooth pain after finishing Invisalign. However, this usually settles down within a few weeks or even days.

If the pain persists a few weeks after completion of treatment, call your orthodontist.

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