Common Sense Aligner Advice

When you first try on your Invisalign aligners, you may feel a twinge of apprehension along with your excitement. On the one hand, you can look forward to getting the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted without traditional metal braces. On the other hand, you may worry about making the adjustment to constantly wearing your aligner trays. And it’s crucial that you get used to wearing the trays regularly, as they work best when worn for 22 hours of every day.

Fortunately, adjusting to wearing your Invisalign aligners can be easy. Over a million people have successfully used Invisalign braces to improve their smile, and the vast majority are happy and satisfied with the experience. If you’re starting out on the process of straightening your teeth with Invisalign aligners, consider these tips to help you make the adjustment.

Tip No. 1: Keep Your Trays In

The most important thing that you can do to help your mouth adjust to the aligners is to wear them exactly as prescribed. Some people make the mistake of taking out their aligners too frequently, thinking it will make the adjustment easier. In fact, taking out your aligners too often will only prolong your treatment and delay your mouth’s adjustment. Keep your aligner trays in place, however, and you’ll soon forget they’re even there.

When you first put it a new tray of Invisalign aligners, it may feel a bit uncomfortable. Some people compare the sensation to wearing a new pair of tight shoes, and it might take up to a week before the cramped feeling goes away. If worn as recommended, though, your mouth will quickly adjust to the shape of the aligners and you will get used to the sensation.

Tip No. 2: Eat Cool, Soft Foods

At first, wearing your Invisalign trays may make your gums more sensitive. To minimize this discomfort, choose soft, easy-to-chew foods for the first few days with each new tray. You don’t have to stick to purees or baby food, but you should stay away from especially hard, brittle food that has a tendency to tear up your mouth. Some foods you may want to avoid on the first day with a new tray include potato chips, pretzels, and anything that advertises itself as being “extra crunchy.”

If your gums are feeling sore, soothe them with cool, soft foods. Yogurt, smoothies, and chilled fruit are all healthy snacks that will make your mouth feel better. And, of course, wearing a new Invisalign aligner tray is a great excuse for getting ice cream, in case you needed one.

Tip No. 3: Put New Aligner Trays in at Bedtime

One of the simplest steps you can take to making your Invisalign aligners more comfortable is by transitioning to a new aligner tray right before bedtime. Generally, people only experience discomfort with their new aligners for a short time. By wearing a new tray at night, you give your mouth a chance to adjust while you’re blissfully unaware of the sensation.

When you sleep, your mouth stays still, so your aligner tray will be less likely to rub against your gums. Also, you produce extra saliva while sleeping, which makes the trays sit more comfortably in your mouth. After a good night’s rest with your new tray in, you should wake up with less discomfort, ready to start a new day smiling.

Tip No. 4: Talk to Your Orthodontist About Pain Relief

Although some mild discomfort is a necessary part of using Invisalign aligners, they should never cause serious pain. Your orthodontist has designed these trays to specifically fit the unique contours of your mouth, so there’s no reason for them to be excruciating. If you think that your aligners are too painful, or if the discomfort they cause is stopping you from using them correctly, it’s essential that you speak to your orthodontist about these issues.

In many cases, a short-term use of over-the-counter pain relief medication is advised. Your orthodontist may recommend taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen, depending on your personal situation, for a short time, while your mouth adjusts to your aligners. Most importantly, your orthodontist can make sure that your trays are fitted properly, which will help you avoid any further pain.

Tip No. 5: Remember Your Goals  

While you adjust to wearing your Invisalign aligners, it’s important to keep in mind your reasons for choosing them in the first place. Think about the healthy smile that you hope to achieve and remember how important it is to you. Your orthodontist can tell you specifically what to expect after using your Invisalign braces; focus on this goal when you’re frustrated with the process.

Most people who use Invisalign aligners quickly adapt to the new sensation. Overall, Invisalign users have a high level of satisfaction, both during the process and afterward. And small changes in your habits and expectations can have big, long-lasting results for your smile.


Dr. Gerald O'Connor B.D.S., N.U.I. (hons) (Principal Dentist & Owner)

Dr Gerald O’Connor qualified with honours from University College Cork in 1998, where he achieved his Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree and was awarded the Kerr Prize for Restorative Dentistry. Following his qualification, he spent 6 years gaining experience in a dental clinic in Essex before buying his own practice in 2004. Dr O’Connor quickly added a second location in 2006 and formed the Oak Dental Group.

After returning to Ireland in 2013, he set up Killiney Dental with his long-time partner Rosemarie. Gerald has a wealth of experience in dentistry with a vested interest in modern, evidence-based solutions. He enjoys implementing new dental treatments that are minimally invasive for patients without compromising their desire for an idealised smile. Dr O’Connor currently serves on the Irish Dental Association’s Quality and Patient Safety Committee. In his spare time, he enjoys films, music, fiction writing and being anywhere in sight of the sea.