Are Aligners Painful To Wear?

One question we get asked a lot here at Uniform Teeth is … “Are aligners painful to wear?”

The reality is that we’d be lying if we said that any form of orthodontic treatment is pain-free and clear aligner treatment is no exception. In fact, it’s normal to feel some kind of tooth aligner pain, but in a way, that’s a positive thing. Let’s explain…  

Say you are looking to get in shape and you sign up at your local gym. You go for your first workout session and the next morning you feel a little stiff.  You know that it’s a positive thing because…well… no pain no gain, right?

Clear aligner pain might also be viewed in the same way. When you experience discomfort, it’s normally a sign that your aligners are working! After all, if you think about what’s actually going on (applying gentle, sustained pressure to physically move a body part), then it’s probably easier to understand that slight aligner pain for the first week may be expected.

That said, not everyone will feel pain or discomfort during their clear aligner treatment as every case is different. That’s pretty normal too! However, if aligners are going to feel uncomfortable, the good news is that it’s usually at the point when a new tray is worn for the first time, so any discomfort felt shouldn’t last long.


Because this is when the tray is normally at its tightest. After several days, once the teeth start to move into the space, the tray slackens off, feeling more like a pair of comfy old slippers rather than a pair of tight-fitting jeans.

That’s great but, do aligners hurt more than braces?

In a word, no! While all orthodontics including aligners apply pressure to move your teeth, what makes clear aligners different is that each aligner tray is designed to be changed every 1-2 weeks, so any force is both gentle and sustained.

Clear aligners also don't have any pokey wires!

So, while it is natural to feel a little initial discomfort with clear aligners (for the first few days at least), it’s unlikely that prolonged aligner pain will feel as uncomfortable as braces.

So now you know what to expect from your aligner treatment, what can you do to help with aligner pain relief? Here are some top tips…

Aligner pain relief tip #1 – Put your new aligners in at night!

When it’s time to put in your new aligners, try putting them in at night just before you go to bed. You’ll have the whole night to get used to them and chances are you’ll sleep through any tenderness.

Aligner pain relief tip #2 – Soothing cold food

When your mouth feels tender, there’s nothing like a chilled piece of fruit or a fruit popsicle to help alleviate any discomfort or inflammation. Stick with low sugar popsicles and as always, remove your aligners before you eat and don’t forget to thoroughly brush your teeth afterwards!   

Aligner pain relief tip #3 – Don’t forget your chewies!

An aligner chewie is a small cylinder made from a spongy styrene copolymer material that resembles a small roll of gauze or cotton. Designed to be chewed just like gum, it helps close any air gaps in the new aligner so the aligner sits more comfortably on your teeth. Oh, and they even come in several colors and flavors.

Aligner pain relief tip #4 – Wax it up!

Sometimes you’ll feel pain right at the point where the aligners join your gums. Apply a little soothing, minty dental wax to the edge of the aligner to help eliminate the discomfort. If you notice a rough spot on the edge of your aligner, you can even use an emery board nail file to smooth it out.

Aligner pain relief tip #5 – OTC meds

The last thing you want to do is to stop wearing your aligners. So, if aligner pain still exists and you’re uncomfotable, then you might want to take some over-the-counter pain relievers such as Advil or Tylenol. This should allow you to continue wearing your clear aligners while working through those difficult first few days.

So there you have it, everything you need to know about clear aligner pain. Hopefully, we’ve answered the question “ Are aligners painful?” both as openly and honestly as we can. But we know from experience that for many clear aligner patients, the sense of achievement when they finally have a straighter, healthier smile, usually far outweighs any discomfort or tenderness felt during the process.

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