Wearing clear aligners to reset your smile is a far cry from the hardware and rubber bands of yesteryear. But while the aligners might look almost invisible, they won’t necessarily feel invisible — because they’re working hard to give you your best smile. As they adjust your teeth, you’ll likely need to adjust to wearing them.
Here are eight things that might happen when wearing aligners that are totally normal.
Look, we’re doing some serious work here, getting your smile in shape. Your aligners have to put pressure on your teeth to get them moving, and that can feel uncomfortable. They’ll need some time to relax into wearing clear aligners. If things feel really awkward, or even painful, you might take some dental wax to the aligners, so they shift smoothly over your gums.
Don’t freak out. This is totally normal when wearing clear aligners.
“Some people say teeth feel loose and mobile,” says Chelsey McCarver, a dental hygienist who manages the dental team at SmileDirectClub. “That’s very, very normal, because we are moving them. It’s a different feeling for our customers who have never been through an orthodontic treatment.”
When you try a new sport or exercise move for the first time, muscles that aren’t accustomed to the new movement might feel sore the next day or few days. The same happens with aligners — you’re suddenly asking more of your mouth muscles and gums and teeth.
But just like working out, there’s a payoff if you keep wearing clear aligners. Taking an over-the-counter pain medicine, like ibuprofen, may help ease this pain just as it would easing post-workout muscle pain. You might also try cold food, like a popsicle, to ease the soreness. Just try that at the gym.
Whatever you do, don’t skip a day. Your teeth will start shifting back, and you’ll be in for even more pain when you start wearing your clear aligners again.
Maybe they feel too loose, or they aren’t snapping into place correctly. If you’ve been wearing one set of aligners for a while, and they’re getting loose, that usually means the aligners have done their job, and it’s time for the next set. That next set is more likely to struggle to snap into place since you’re trying to nudge the teeth in a new direction. This is when you can break out the Chewie tablets that come with your aligners, which help push them in place.
This happens. It may help to lightly file an aligner, just like you would a fingernail. There are no fancy tools needed — an emery board, similar to what folks use on their nails, will work.
If an aligner is rubbing the skin on the inside of your cheek, for example, McCarver says filing is likely the answer.
It won’t last, but, yeah, it’s real. Some people find that they speak with a bit of a lisp when first wearing clear aligners, but others don’t think it changes the way they talk at all. It depends on the person.
Just stick with it. After a few days, your mouth will adjust, and the lisp go away. And remember: You’re the one paying the most attention to your every word—most other people will likely never notice.
Sometimes wearing clear aligners all day makes your mouth feel extra dry. This one’s an easy fix: drink lots of cool water. Water is great for you anyway, right? Applying lip balm can help too. If you have a more serious dryness that won’t go away, try a special mouthwash that’s made to help with dry mouth.
To be clear, this doesn’t happen often — almost any concern that arises with aligners, our highly qualified team can solve in a quick phone call. But for those rare, challenging questions, our experts may suggest taking a photo or shooting a quick phone video of what’s going on for our team to help troubleshoot.
Which is to say, we’re here to solve any issues that might arise quickly, painlessly, and without requiring much effort from you — but our aligners have such a proven track record of success that we rarely need to engage this step.