How Much Should Invisalign Hurt?

woman experiencing invisalign pain

I’m wondering how much pain is normal with Invisalign. I was told to anticipate “some discomfort” when I started and as I changed out the aligners. The first couple sets were like that, where for a couple days at the start of each new set, I’d have soreness and would have to stick to soft foods and would sometimes need to take ibuprofen. I’m on my fourth set and this one is a doozy. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve been in agony for a week. Nothing is taking the edge off. It’s like my jaw hurts 24/7. I don’t know if this matters, but I’m also 47, so maybe it’s different for me or my teeth will have a harder time moving? How much pain should I put up with before I go in?



Dear Abby,

Sorry to hear things aren’t going well. Let’s break down what’s happening.

“Some Discomfort” is Normal with Invisalign; Pain is Not

What you described with your initial three sets of aligners is more or less par for the course. You can expect some tenderness and the teeth shift. The discomfort comes from your periodontal ligaments which are being stretched sort of like rubber bands. Once the shifting stops, they settle down again.

Switching to soft foods and taking an OTC pain medication are good ways to handle it. What you’re experiencing now—genuine pain—is not normal.

You Might Be Having TMJ Problems

Oftentimes, full jaw pain means you’re having problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Although many people refer to pain in the area as TMJ too, the correct term is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Do you find yourself clenching or grinding? If so, this is probably what’s causing the soreness. On the flip side, sometimes people who have always had TMD or were active clenchers and grinders before treatment find their jaw pain increases momentarily during treatment as their bite is corrected. In these cases, the pain typically goes away entirely on its own as you continue through treatment.

Baby Your Jaw to Help with TMD Symptoms

What you’re doing already to help with discomfort is a good start. You can also try doing stretches (if you can comfortably do so), gently massaging the area, or using hot or cold compresses. This is really one of those times where you want to work with what feels right—don’t overextend yourself or apply pressure if it makes it feel worse.

You Should Still Get an Exam

Your treating dentist should be brought in on this. He or she may have additional tips or suggestions and needs to be aware of what’s happening in case it impacts the course of treatment. There’s also some possibility that you’re dealing with something else and having referred pain. Get this checked out sooner rather than later to be sure.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin Invisalign dentist Dr. Steve Sirin.

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