If the prospect of pain is keeping you from trying orthodontic treatment, we would like to put your mind at ease. Dr. Kanani is her to explain what you can expect and how to combat any discomfort.
Do Braces & Clear Aligners Hurt
Have you heard that mouth pain or sore teeth are common during treatment with braces and clear aligners? Though this is true, you shouldn’t let it scare you away from this orthodontic treatment option.
Mild pain or discomfort is a normal side effect of wearing braces. But you should only feel the discomfort immediately after your orthodontist places or adjusts your braces or wires and for Invisalign, you should only feel minimal discomfort after starting a new tray. The discomfort typically disappears within four days, and braces pain rarely lasts longer than a week.
Remember the last time you pushed yourself to complete another 10 reps or walk just a little longer and felt a bit sore after? It's the same idea here – as your teeth gently move into their prescribed positions to help you achieve a straighter smile, they may feel a bit sore while the aligners work.
Today, we’ll discuss the challenges you may face during and following Invisalign treatment, and how you can combat the soreness.
How much will my teeth hurt, and why?
To realign your smile, braces put stress on your teeth. This pressure often makes your teeth and gums sensitive. For a short period after their initial placement, you might also feel some pain in your cheeks. Most types of braces are designed to ease the pain as much as possible, but they can still rub against your cheeks, causing soreness or even small cuts.
For Invisalign, while not everyone feels soreness or pain during the treatment process, many will. Some describe it as a light pressure on their teeth on the first day they switch to a new clear aligner tray.
During treatment with Invisalign, your teeth will move only about .2 millimeters from the first day to the seventh that you wear a new clear aligner tray.
Invisalign trays are made of smooth plastic - no wires (like traditional braces have) to poke or prod sensitive places in your mouth, which can sometimes cause irritation. You may also notice a little more adaptability in this plastic compared to other more stiff plastics, so Invisalign pain should be minimal. Plus, your clear aligners will be custom-made to fit your smile.
Do rubber bands on braces hurt?
Orthodontists often add rubber bands to braces to apply additional pressure to your teeth. Just like with the wires connecting your braces, this pressure can be painful. Like with any change, it’s only painful in the very beginning. After a few days, your mouth adjusts to the extra pressure and the pain goes away.
Home Remedies for Braces & Invisalign Pain
If you do feel a bit of pain while your teeth adjust to their new positions, there are some home remedies you can try:
Switch to your new aligners at night.
Since you’ll be sleeping, night may be your best time to switch to your new aligners. This way, your mouth will have the next 8 hours or so to get used to them and any discomfort, pain or tenderness you feel may disappear by the time you wake up.
Use dental wax.
Are your teeth or gums feeling painful as your braces or clear aligners realign your teeth? Dental wax may help.
Brackets and wires can irritate your cheeks, but orthodontic wax can add a soft barrier between your braces and the rest of your mouth is a great way to prevent cuts and irritation. Just be sure to remove the wax before you eat or brush your teeth, then reapply when you’ve finished. And while you should avoid swallowing the wax, it is non-toxic.
For Invisalign, you can apply a tiny amount between your teeth and your aligners, or on any areas that are very tender or sore. The wax will act as a cushion on your teeth as they adapt to your aligners.
Rinse with warm salt water.
Your mouth sores may be soothed with a swish of salt water. You only need ½ teaspoon per 1 cup in warm water. Try this every few hours for 3 to 4 days, keep diligently flossing, brushing and practicing excellent at-home oral care, and see if this works.
Eat cold foods.
Some patients report that indulging with a 100% fruit Popsicle or cold ice pop helps their gums to feel better after they switch aligners. Don’t forget to remove your clear aligners before you eat.
Eat soft foods
When your braces are put on or have been adjusted, it might help to eat soft foods like mashed potatoes, noodles, and soup provide the nourishment you need without putting any additional pressure on your teeth.
Take an over-the-counter pain killer.
If all else fails, over the counter painkillers can be just what you need to help alleviate mouth pain due to a new set of clear aligners.
Apply an ice pack.
Similar to a cold Popsicle, an ice pack, towel moistened with cold water or a cold compress can help to soothe a sore mouth and reduce inflammation.
See your dentist regularly.
One of the most important things to keep doing as you progress through your treatment with clear aligners is to keep seeing your dentist regularly - every four to six weeks.
They will check in on your smile and your progress, and answer any questions you may have about whether what you are experiencing is normal, and provide advice.
Another bonus: clear aligners usually don't require adjustments, so your dentist won't need to tighten them regularly like would be required with traditional braces, which may cause some pain.