What Are The Normal Side Effects To Look For During Clear Aligner Treatment?

Woman wearing a blue shirt, holding aligners and smiling.

As you start your clear aligner treatment, it’s important to be aware of possible side effects that might occur throughout the process. That way, you can report any issues to your dentist right away so they can be fixed before they become serious problems. Here are the most common side effects associated with this type of orthodontic treatment, along with some tips on how to deal with them if you experience them yourself.

What Are Common Side Effects While Wearing Aligners?

All orthodontic devices have their fair share of side effects and clear aligners are no different. The most common ones you should look out for are:

  • Tooth and jaw soreness
  • Irritation of the lips, gums, and tongue
  • Mild speech changes such as a lisp
  • Bad breath or dry mouth
  • Increased saliva production

Most of these side effects tend to occur toward the beginning of treatment, or when switching to a new tray during treatment. This is usually because it takes some time to get used to having the aligners in your mouth. Although the aligners are smooth and sit up against the teeth, irritation along the lips, gums, and tongue can happen since these areas may rub the edges of the aligner more at first. Tooth and jaw soreness are also common when first starting aligner treatment or switching to a new tray. Luckily, all these side effects are usually temporary and will usually subside after you get more comfortable with your clear aligners.1

How Long Will It Take To Get Used To The Clear Aligners?

The actual time it takes to get used to your aligners depends on your willingness to stick with your treatment. Remember, you don’t have to wear your aligners all day, but the longer you can wear them the more you will get used to them. The only time you should be taking them out is during meals and when you are brushing your teeth. Most patients get used to their clear aligners within a few days and very few patients take more than a week or two. Though you may experience some side effects at first, there is no reason why you can’t wear your aligners 24/7 (except to eat and brush your teeth).

Precautions during aligner treatment

What Is It like To Eat During Aligner Treatment?

Some patients may experience some sensitivity to certain temperatures or foods when first starting clear aligner treatment. However, this usually does not last and people go back to eating all their favorite foods!

You may also have concerns about food getting stuck in your teeth, especially during orthodontic treatment. Luckily, that’s not a worry with clear aligners since you can take them out while eating. However, it’s extremely important to continue to maintain good oral hygiene when wearing clear aligners in order to avoid plaque buildup and tooth decay. While clear aligners won’t interfere with your daily activities or change how you live life, it is still possible for normal side effects—like gum irritation—to occur if you aren’t taking proper care of your teeth and gums.1

How Should I Treat My Teeth When I Have My Clear Aligners In?

While you have your aligners in, you shouldn’t be eating or drinking anything other than water. Doing so can damage your aligners and set your treatment back or cause your aligners to stain. When you first start aligner treatment or a new tray, you should be more gentle with your teeth. Try not to eat anything particularly hot or cold (like ice cream or popsicles) or overly crunchy (like chips). These foods will irritate your teeth more than usual because your teeth are more sensitive since the aligners are gradually moving them to their new positions.2 If the side effects are bothering you too much, talk to your orthodontist. They may be able to help change your treatment plan to make the aligners more comfortable.

How Will My Clear Aligners Affect My Speech?

Clear aligners may cause some minor changes in speech such as a slight lisp. It’s important to know that this is temporary and will go away as treatment progresses and you get more used to wearing your aligners.3 Remember: You can always take your aligners out for short periods of time if you need a break or have an important event where you will be speaking. If you are worried or feel like your speech is being dramatically affected, you can talk to your doctor and they will help address your concerns.

Are There Any Other Possible Issues?

Since you don’t notice your aligners as much, you may end up chewing gum or biting your fingernails while your aligners are in and risk damaging them or wearing away at them with excessive use. If that happens, your dentist will likely recommend switching out your aligners for new ones to prevent even more damage from occurring.

How Do I Know If It’s Working?

The first thing you should do is look at your teeth. Are they shifting into their new position? If so, then that’s a good sign; it means your treatment is progressing normally. However, don’t expect things to happen overnight. It takes time and persistence. Rest assured, by continuing your treatment you will see results in due time.

If you have some concerns along the way, contact your Spark Provider or visit your orthodontist as soon as possible. He or she can make adjustments if necessary and help ensure a successful result! Be sure to ask about normal side effects during clear aligner treatment as well so that you know what’s normal and what isn’t.