The aesthetic of straight white teeth is often associated with symbols of social and professional advantage. Straight teeth also offer health benefits that include better digestion, reduced headaches and pain, and improvements to overall health.
Invisalign aligners offer many benefits to one’s smile and appearance, without weighing the pros and cons of braces. Though Invisalign provides a nearly invisible and removable treatment, there are still some discomforts that patients may experience through this teeth alignment treatment.
Discomforts Associated With Invisalign Use
Invisalign retainers exert pressure on the teeth to slowly move them into alignment. The presence of the retainer during orthodontic treatment can sometimes result in adverse effects that may include discomfort, sensitivity, and pain. The following discomforts can be addressed during a patient consultation with your orthodontist.
Though Invisalign retainers offer a low-visibility solution, the placement of the aligner trays can be uncomfortable early on in the treatment process. The presence of the retainer against the lips and tongue can initially interfere with speech. However, as the treatment progresses and the patient becomes accustomed to the presence of the retainer, the patient may adapt and feel more comfortable and able to produce uninhibited speech.
Cheek Biting and Cut Tongue
Alongside the initial distortion to standard speech patterns, some patients may accidentally bite their cheeks or cut their tongue on the retainer as they adjust to its presence in their mouths. Some patients may also experience cheek or tongue biting through the treatment as the teeth move into alignment. It may take time for a patient to adjust to their new teeth positions to avoid any accidental biting. If a patient does bite their tongue or inner cheek, it is essential to rinse the mouth and use an antibacterial mouthwash to prevent infection or other irritations.
At times, the Invisalign retainer may also include some jagged edges from production, which may cut the inside of the mouth; these can easily be remedied by visiting your orthodontist and having the retainer filed down to a smooth edge.
Some adverse clinical events reported that polyurethane and isocyanate components that make up the Invisalign retainers may cause allergic reactions. For some, the reaction may be minor gum and mouth irritation, while others may experience more severe effects such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat or lips, blisters, or anaphylactic reactions. It is essential to discuss any discomfort and irritation associated with an allergic reaction with your orthodontist immediately when symptoms occur.
Headache and Jaw Pain
There are many nerve endings connected between the teeth, jaw, and face. Some Invisalign users may experience pain as a side effect of the pressure the aligner uses to shift the teeth into proper placement. This pain can be felt in the form of a headache, jaw pain, earache, or neck pain. Some users may also experience jaw popping as the realignment of teeth may impact the placement of the jaw and bite. Some patients may become accustomed to the gentle pressure of the aligners and feel less pain while undergoing treatment. Some patients may experience more of a sensitivity sensation than pain.
Human saliva has a few critical functions, including maintaining oral hygiene. Saliva contains natural enzymes that help to flush the mouth, removing bacteria and preventing the overgrowth of microbial populations. Without the natural flow of saliva in the mouth, there is an opportunity for bacteria to build up, which can also result in bad breath and cavities. Because teeth aligners fully cover the teeth and obstruct the natural flow of saliva, it is essential to drink sufficient amounts of water and brush teeth often to keep the mouth hydrated and clean.
Bleeding and Receding gums
Studies on the periodontal health of patients treated with Invisalign found that Invisalign patients are at less risk of developing periodontal disease than other treatments of fixed orthodontic appliances such as braces. Invisalign patients may suffer some gum irritation and bleeding in the initial stages of treatment as the mouth acclimates to the placement of the retainer. Drinking water to flush the mouth of bacteria can help to reduce the opportunity of bleeding or receding gums.
Nausea and Dizziness
The feeling of a foreign object in the mouth for an extended period may cause some patients to feel symptoms of nausea or dizziness. These symptoms usually fade as the patient becomes adjusted to the feeling of the retainer in the mouth.
Eating foods and drinking with Invisalign retainers (aside from pure water) may cause the retainer to lose its transparency, so it is best to remove them while doing so. Invisalign retainers must be worn for a minimum of 22 hours per day, leaving 2 per day for hours for eating. Teeth may also be sensitive from the gentle pressure of the aligner, so many patients choose to eat softer foods. These dietary changes may result in weight loss, but developing a healthy relationship with food and making dietary changes such as the addition of protein shakes can help reduce weight loss.
Thorough cleansing of the mouth and retainer is also important for dental health. Though some patients discontinue regularly scheduled meals while undergoing Invisalign treatment, it is important to eat balanced meals with a regular eating schedule.
Is Invisalign Worth It?
Invisalign retainers correct misaligned or crooked teeth with a discrete and nearly invisible treatment, helping those that may feel self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth or the use of braces. Additional benefits that may make Invisalign the right choice for patients may include:
- That they are removable, easy to clean for eating, drinking, and activities such as sports. Other dental applications may be more difficult to maintain hygiene after consuming food and drinks, which can result in decalcification and cavities.
- Treatment times may vary, but results are often seen early on in the use of Invisalign.
- Invisalign retainers often require fewer in-person follow up appointments, making them more convenient than traditional treatments like braces. Some patients may have access to dental apps or remote appointments to monitor progress.