The Most Common Challenges During Invisalign Treatment and How to Overcome Them

Women holding Invisalign aligners before putting them on her teeth.

For more than 20 years, Invisalign has been an easy and effective alternative treatment to traditional metal braces for straightening teeth and improving bite and alignment. Through a series of clear plastic trays made from a multi layer polymer, Invisalign uses patented SmartTrack technology to deliver gentle but constant force so that teeth can slowly but accurately shift into a more desirable position. However, while Invisalign is a great option for patients who are looking for a more discreet and natural aesthetic, it can have its challenges. 

Dental Depot of DFW is a Diamond Plus Invisalign® provider, a top-tier designation awarded to just 1% of Invisalign® providers worldwide. This means that Dental Depot offers the highest level of excellence in Invisalign® treatment, successfully treating at least 400 patients a year and implementing the best in orthodontic technology, including the iTero 2® Intraoral Scanner for more accurate 3D images and better, more effective results. 

This recognition also means that the Invisalign-certified dentists at Dental Depot of DFW are deeply experienced and familiar with the challenges that can come with clear aligner treatment, and they know how to help you navigate them for successful treatment and a stunning smile.

Invisalign: 8 Common Challenges to Treatment

While challenges are not a guaranteed part of the Invisalign process, they might pop up unexpectedly. The good news is that these issues are simple to resolve and shouldn’t discourage you from trying Invisalign! In most cases, they can be prevented outright. The ten most common are:

1) Discomfort

Even as gradual as the shifting is, moving your teeth, whether with braces or clear aligners, will likely produce some mild discomfort and tenderness. However, this discomfort is usually mild, less than that of braces, and manageable with over-the-counter pain relief medications. For most patients, discomfort or tenderness is worse at the beginning of treatment and gets better or subsides completely as they grow accustomed to the aligners. For the most comfort possible, be sure to wear your aligners for the duration recommended on the prescribed schedule; if you skip days or don’t wear them for as long as you should, your teeth won’t be moving as they should or fit properly into the aligners, resulting in pain and discomfort.

Other ways you can manage discomfort from clear aligners are:

  • Don’t take the aligners out too often
  • Start a new aligner before bed to avoid pain
  • Avoid eating hard foods until the discomfort subsides
  • Suck on ice cubes (never crunch them)
  • Keep your Invisalign appointments. When your dentist or orthodontist can regularly monitor your fit and progress, he or she can make sure the aligners are still fitting properly.
  • Make sure the aligner is fitted properly

Use of the iTero scanner to develop your series of custom clear aligner trays greatly improves their comfort, while the trays themselves are made using patented SmartTrack technology and are cut back at the gum line to ensure that no harsh edges are pushing into the soft tissues of your mouth. Before you begin treatment, a fitting will be done to address any concerns and to determine that the trays are the right fit to achieve the desired results. During this fitting, it’s important to tell your orthodontist of any pain or discomfort you notice. 

2) Cavities

Cavities can happen to anyone, but they may be more likely for people who are wearing aligners. This is because, since the aligners cover the teeth for such a long period of time, bacteria on the enamel aren’t getting washed away by saliva as effectively or as frequently and bacteria can build up on the aligners, creating a breeding ground for cavity-causing microbes.

To prevent cavities during Invisalign treatment, be sure to:

  • Brush and floss with the aligners out at least twice a day, as well as after eating and always before bed
  • Rinse and gently brush the aligners with lukewarm water and a toothbrush frequently, especially when you wake up
  • Keep your routine dental visits, including checkups and cleanings

You can also use Invisalign’s Cleaning Crystals to clean your aligners, making sure to rinse and dry the trays before putting them back in your mouth.

3) Mouth sores

Invisalign aligners are very comfortable. They fit snugly on your teeth because they are custom-made to your mouth and are cut back at the gum line to prevent harsh edges pushing into the soft tissues of your mouth. However, especially during the early days and weeks of your treatment, your gums and lips will be unaccustomed to having something else touching them all the time, which can cause a brief increase in sore spots in the mouth. 

To treat and prevent mouth sores caused by Invisalign aligners, be sure to:

  • Let your dentist or orthodontist know. He or she can try to correct the parts of the aligners that are causing the problem. 
  • Use a topical antiseptic or pain medication like Orajel to treat the sore
  • Rinse regularly with warm saltwater or a peroxide-based mouthwash
  • Keep your aligners clean
  • Apply dental wax as necessary

4) Gingivitis or early gum disease

Without proper cleaning, care, and fit, there is a potential for clear aligners to aggravate your gum health. Accumulated bacteria resulting from bad oral hygiene and aligner care, as well as poor fit can irritate the gums, causing inflammation and tenderness. 

However, gingivitis, early gum disease, and gum recession are almost entirely preventable, whether you’re in clear aligner treatment or not. 

To preserve your gum health during Invisalign treatment, make sure you:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and rinsing
  • Visit the dentist regularly
  • Clean your aligner properly and regularly
  • Are wearing your aligners as directed and that they fit comfortably and properly
  • Follow your dentist or orthodontists instructions

5) Aligner damage

One of the most common challenges to using Invisalign, especially for younger patients, is losing or damaging their trays. The aligners are easy to remove, making them just as easy to lose, drop, or misplace.

To prevent aligner damage, be sure to:

  • Always store your aligners in their case when they’re not in your mouth
  • Wear your aligners for the recommended time, usually at least 22 hours a day
  • Avoid eating or drinking with your aligners in
  • Never use hot water, toothpaste, or abrasive cleaners to clean your aligners

If you lose an aligner, be sure to notify your dentist or orthodontist as soon as possible. The longer you go without an aligner, the more your teeth will shift back into position and the harder it will be to get your treatment plan back on track. You can also see if your next or previous set fits; if they feel uncomfortable or don’t settle properly, then don’t wear them.

5) Treatment duration and outcomes

With Invisalign, seeing results and completing your treatment are two different things. Many Invisalign patients are surprised to start seeing results in just a few weeks. However, while this can be great motivation, it can also make patients think they don’t need to wear their aligners anymore. Even if you are starting to see results sooner than you thought from your Invisalign treatment, it’s important to follow the entire treatment plan for the best, safest, and longest-lasting results.

The average Invisalign treatment for most patients is about one year, but exact treatment time will vary from patient to patient. Adult Invisalign patients may be required to wear the aligners for slightly longer, since their fully-developed teeth and jaws are less malleable and harder to move. 

For best results, you should wear your clear aligners at least 20 to 22 hours a day, taking them out only to eat and brush your teeth. It’s only through constant pressure that your teeth can be moved into their proper alignment; if you don’t wear your aligners enough, you won’t get the smile you’re hoping for, it may take longer to get optimal results, and, in some cases, you may do more harm than good to your teeth.

6) Difficulty speaking

You may notice some changes in your speech during the first few days or weeks of your Invisalign treatment. The clear aligner can cause a slight lisp as your mouth, teeth, and tongue get used to wearing it, but over time, you should notice your speech returning to normal. If it continues, however, be sure to talk with your orthodontist; it may be a sign your aligners are fitted properly.

7) Bad breath

Bad breath can be a problem for aligner wearers, and accumulated bacteria in the aligners and/or the case is usually the cause. 

You can banish bad breath by practicing good oral hygiene and proper aligner care, including:

  • Brushing and flossing without the aligner in at least twice a day
  • Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash
  • Brushing and/or rinsing after eating and drinking
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Remove your aligners before eating and drinking
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Visit the dentist regularly for cleaning and checkups
  • Cleaning your aligner regularly and storing it in a clean, dry case when you aren’t wearing it
  • Rinsing and drying the storage case regularly

9) Cost

The cost of Invisalign treatment is generally around $3,000 – $5,000 dollars, which is comparable to traditional metal braces but may seem out of reach for some people. However, between savings plans, insurance, and flexible payment plans, Dental Depot of DFW provides patients with a variety of options to help make Invisalign treatment more affordable.

When deciding how to pay for your Invisalign treatment, be sure to:

  • Check with your dental insurance. Whether or not your Invisalign treatment is covered by insurance will depend on factors like your insurance company and your age. Many dental insurance plans will cover Invisalign clear aligner treatment similar to the way they cover braces–they will pay for either a certain percentage or a certain dollar amount of the treatment, and there is likely a lifetime cap on the amount that can be paid for orthodontic treatment. Age is one of the most common restrictions on orthodontic benefits. In general, plans with age limits will cover orthodontic treatment for patients up to age 19. 
  • Look into a spending or savings account. You may be able to apply the pre-tax dollars available to you in your FSA (Flexible Spending Account) or your HSA (Health Savings Account) towards the balance of your treatment cost. 
  • Work with your provider. Any balance or remaining balance can be paid in full or a payment plan can be arranged with your provider. Be sure to discuss with your provider whether or not the retainer is included in your balance as well.  Affordable monthly payments with flexible payment options make Invisalign achievable for nearly every candidate. 

Discover Your Best Smile with Invisalign from Dental Depot in DFW

When treatment is followed as directed, Invisalign has up to a 96% success rate, and with the use of technology like the iTero Element 2 scanner and Invisalign’s proprietary software, the Invisalign-certified providers at Dental Depot of DFW can help ensure a more comfortable fit, faster treatment time, and better results.

Your best smile is waiting with Invisalign treatment from Dental Depot in DFW. We’ve helped thousands of patients get the most out of treatment while minimizing side effects and challenges so they can smile with confidence, and we can help you.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation! 


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