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Many patients undergo Invisalign treatment for straight teeth expecting it not to hurt at all. This is hardly surprising, as Invisalign in Singapore is often advertised as being pain-free or a lot less painful than metal braces. While it’s true that Invisalign is a lot more comfortable compared to traditional braces, it is not true that it is not painful at all. As with all orthodontic treatments, when moving and straightening teeth, there is bound to be some pain and mild discomfort.

How intense is this pain, and how long will it last? This article will explore all you need to know about Invisalign treatment in Singapore and pain.

Does Invisalign hurt, and to what degree?

In general, Invisalign may cause mild pain initially but is a lot less painful than braces. Any pain or discomfort experienced is temporary and will fade after the teeth adjusts to wearing the Invisalign clear aligners. For many patients, this acclimatisation takes place within a week of using their new aligners. Since the Invisalign treatment plan requires new aligner trays every 2 weeks, it is possible to experience some discomfort within the first few days within each cycle. In terms of pain level, this will depend on a few factors such as your tolerance towards pain and the presence of sensitive teeth and gums.

A 2005 study reported that 54% of Invisalign patients experienced mild pain, while 35% did not. Of the 54% who did, 44% complained about discomfort during chewing. From the numbers, we can conclude that not every Invisalign user will have pain, and even so, the discomfort does not surface all the time. To add on, it’s possible for pain symptoms to be less pronounced as you get used to wearing your aligners.

Why does Invisalign hurt?

Pain from Invisalign can be credited to a few factors including:

Friction from aligners

Sores and ulcers are common with traditional braces due to the brackets rubbing against the inside of the mouth and wire placement. To combat this sensitivity, the mouth develops calluses, which results in pain. The same goes for Invisalign aligners but on a much smaller scale. The edges of the clear aligners —albeit not sharp—can irritate your gums and lips as your mouth adjusts to wearing them. Some patients may find that they develop some calluses in their mouth over the first couple of weeks, but this is normal and necessary to prevent irritation. Usually this pain goes away once you switch out your first set of clear aligners and your mouth adjusts to having plastic retainers.

Teeth movement

In order for Invisalign treatment to shift your teeth and give you healthier and straighter teeth, some pressure is necessary — and pressure means soreness. This soreness is most pronounced during the first few days of wearing a new set of Invisalign clear aligners, but it eventually goes away till the next cycle. If anything, few patients would describe this soreness as pain but rather discomfort.

Improper finishing of the aligners

When you run your tongue along the edge of your aligner, you should not be getting cuts. Any cuts or rough edges against your tongue is a result of improper finishing of your aligners. This side effect can be easily remedied by bringing it up to an Invisalign accredited dentist who will adjust the edges accordingly.

When is the pain from Invisalign a concern?

While it’s possible to experience mild pain in the teeth, jaw and tongue within the first week of wearing your new set of aligners, the pain should not be severe to the point where it interferes with your daily activities. Call your dentist immediately if you experience:

  • Bleeding in your teeth or gums
  • Pain when eating, drinking or swallowing food
  • Facial swelling

How can I reduce pain from Invisalign?

1. Apply dental wax

If you’re experiencing gum pain from Invisalign, some dental wax might help. Apply a small portion on the top edges of your aligners or where it hurts. Lubricating those areas can reduce any friction that might be causing gum pain. If there is a particular spot wax can’t cover, you might need to ask your dentist to file it down for you.

2. Take OTC medicine

You may consider taking over-the-counter pain relief medication like panadol during the first few days when pain is the most severe. However, do consult your doctor if it’s safe for you to take painkillers especially if you are on other medications.

3. Avoid taking out your aligners

As tempting as it is, avoid taking out your Invisalign aligners for prolonged periods of time unless recommended by your dentist. Invisalign should be worn at least 22 hours a day. Not wearing your aligners would not only extend your treatment time but decrease your overall pain tolerance to the trays as well.

4. Remove your aligners cleanly and safely

Always practice good hygiene when removing your invisible braces. This includes washing your hands thoroughly and taking out your aligners with care.

References

  1. Nedwed, V., & Miethke, R. R. (2005). Motivation, acceptance and problems of invisalign patients. Journal of orofacial orthopedics = Fortschritte der Kieferorthopadie : Organ/official journal Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Kieferorthopadie, 66(2), 162–173. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00056-005-0429-0
  2. Miller, K. B., McGorray, S. P., Womack, R., Quintero, J. C., Perelmuter, M., Gibson, J., Dolan, T. A., & Wheeler, T. T. (2007). A comparison of treatment impacts between Invisalign aligner and fixed appliance therapy during the first week of treatment. American journal of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics : official publication of the American Association of Orthodontists, its constituent societies, and the American Board of Orthodontics, 131(3), 302.e1–302.e3029. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajodo.2006.05.031
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