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Do braces hurt? Is Invisalign painful? If you’re worried about discomfort, the team at Piskai Orthodontics is here with reassurance — painful braces or Invisalign is one of the first concerns our patients ask about. So here, we’ll cover 6 things you should know about the potential discomfort that comes with braces and Invisalign®. We’ll also share tips on how to find relief.

1. Expect Mild Discomfort During the Adjustment Period

When you first get braces or Invisalign, you’ll likely feel a pressure or tightness in your mouth. Rest assured, this feeling is completely normal. In fact, it’s a sign that your treatment is working. Braces or Invisalign pain in the first week is temporary and gradually subsides as your teeth adjust to your orthodontic treatment.

2. Discomfort Can Mean Your Invisalign Aligners or Braces are Doing Their Job

Your teeth are working hard the minute you put those clear aligners or braces on. Quick science lesson about what’s happening when teeth shift? It’s called “bone remodeling” and involves building new bone cells as well as breaking down bone cells so teeth can safely move from one position to another. With this process, it’s understandable that you might experience some Invisalign or braces pain.

3. Invisalign Pain Could Also Mean They’re Not Seated Correctly

For Invisalign treatment to stay on track, your trays must sit correctly over your teeth. If they’re not, you might feel like your Invisalign hurts your teeth. To make sure your clear aligners sit correctly, use your fingers to push them over the front teeth, then apply gentle pressure to your molars so aligners snap into place. Then use your thumbs to firmly press along the length of the aligners until they’re fully seated over your teeth and the attachments. 

If you’re having difficulty, Dr. Piskai recommends using Invisalign “chewies” to help bite your clear aligners into place. Invisalign chewies are small, soft and spongy cylinders that you bite on to get rid of spaces between your teeth and aligners. A perk with chewies? Not only do they improve aligner seating but biting on them can help massage your gums and relieve discomfort. You can also try Movemints®, flavored mints you chew instead of bite.

4. Clear Aligners Out Too Often

The rule for wearing Invisalign is wearing them 22 hours a day, taking them out only when eating, drinking anything other than water, or for brushing and flossing your teeth. Conversely, leaving your aligners out for too long can cause pain in your teeth. See, once you put them back in, they may fit too tightly because your teeth are unused to them. 

Pro tip: Some patients experience less Invisalign pain by wearing their aligners a little longer and reducing how often they take them out.

5. Braces Pain Is Typical After Adjustments

Do braces hurt during your entire treatment? Thankfully, no! But after you first get them, teeth can feel extra tender again after adjustments. However, you’ll be happy to know that braces pain after an adjustment is milder than when you first got braces. Plus the discomfort goes away quickly; it lasts only a day or two.

6. Braces Rubbing on Your Soft Oral Tissues Can Cause Discomfort

When you first get braces, your brackets and wires can rub against the inside of your mouth, causing irritation or even small sores or cuts. This is normal. Your mouth will essentially “toughen up” and the irritation or rubbing will stop within a few weeks. 

Ways to Relieve Braces or Invisalign Pain

You’re now likely wondering how to deal with Invisalign pain or braces discomfort. Try out these tried-and-true strategies:

1. Over-the-counter pain relievers

Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage discomfort. Always consult your orthodontist or a pharmacist before taking any medication.

2. Orthodontic wax

Here’s how to use orthodontic wax: Apply a small amount of wax onto any irritating brackets or wires to create a barrier between your braces and soft oral tissues. This reduces friction and gives sores or cuts a chance to heal.

3. Warm saltwater rinses

Swish warm salt water for about 30 seconds a few times a day to help reduce inflammation in your mouth.

4. Ice packs on the outside

Apply an ice pack or cold compress to your cheeks for a few minutes at a time to help numb discomfort and reduce swelling on your gums.

5. Soft (and cold!) foods

Stick to softer foods like soups, mashed potatoes, and smoothies during the first few days of your treatment, when leveling up to your next set of aligners, or after your braces were tightened. Bonus points if your soft foods are cold and can soothe soft oral tissue!

6. Ask Dr. Piskai for expert tips

If you’re experiencing prolonged or severe Invisalign or braces pain, reach out to your expert South Jersey orthodontist. We’re more than happy to lend guidance, offer tips, examine your teeth, or make adjustments to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible.

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