Tooth Grinding With Invisalign & A little Toothache

I don’t know what it is with my teeth at the moment, but I must be making my dentist a very rich man….

In the last few weeks I have broken a tooth, and had three bouts of toothache. I’m starting to wonder if tooth grinding with Invisalign is the reason.

Tooth Grinding with Invisalign dentist's chair.
Too much time in the dentist’s chair – Maybe due to tooth grinding with Invisalign?

In the bad old days when I never flossed and was so scared of the dentist that every visit required three days mental preparation, a sleepless night beforehand and the ever present temptation to run for the door and never set foot in a dentist surgery again, I could accept these minor dental inconveniences. An overbite I could fit a finger through? I was used to it. Two fillings minimum per visit? I expected it as a result of my no floss, high sugar lifestyle. These days however, I am a paragon of dental virtue. Not only do I overfloss, I brush fastidiously and.. well, ok, I still guzzle the diet coke… Nonetheless, as someone who now visits her dentist every six months religiously and her Invisalign orthodontist every six weeks, I thought I would be finished with the whole endless fillings thing.

In a funny way, perhaps I am. Three times in the last couple of months I have had dental pain. Once on the lower arch, and twice on the upper. Not just a slight twinge either- the kind of toothache that pulls you from your sleep, fuzzy, confused and irritable at 2am and doesn’t let you rest again the whole night. The kind where you just about function thanks to painkillers, but with one hand on your jaw and your tongue constantly worrying the offending area.

Painkillers for invisalign bracesFortunately for me I’m lucky enough to have medical insurance provided by an employer that means that routine dentistry (although not the big stuff, sadly) is reasonably affordable. So, not only have I been to see my own dentist, but after he failed to find anything wrong I trotted off to get a second opinion from another dentist who, after another examination and x ray agreed; my teeth look fine.

Despite these assurances I’m fairly convinced that my broken tooth (the one my dentist recently fixed) is the cause of the upper pain. Although nothing shows up on x ray, ever since it was fixed it has been VERY sensitive to heat and cold. My dentist’s explanation is that there is a little gum recession around that tooth and that that is probably the cause of the sensitivity. I’m not convinced.

I’m due to see my orthodontist in two weeks so will quiz him as to whether he agrees that this is a gum recession issue or not. I’m hoping that he’ll at least have some answers for me and that he will say that it isn’t anything to do with my Invisalign- the very last thing I want now is any reason to slow down or discontinue my treatment.

The only other explanation that I have, and this one seems plausible- to me at least, is that I am clenching or grinding my teeth at night. Ever since the start of my Invisalign treatment I have noticed that whenever my aligners are in my mouth I constantly reseat them on my teeth. This is particularly the case at the beginning of wearing a new set when they are tight, or at the end of the two weeks wear when they are loose.

I don’t do this gently you understand, no delicate little taps of my teeth for me. Nope, I CLENCH my jaws together hard as if trying to bite through a fine layer of reinforced concrete, sometimes making my jaw ache and even my ear throb with the pressure. I’m not sure what the mental process is that makes me do this, it seems to be a subconscious thing, my brain devilishly working against my best interests when I’m not looking. I can only presume it’s some kind of reaction to having a foreign object in my mouth.

And it’s not all bad- according to a dentist I know, it will actually help my Invisalign to fit better and move my teeth more easily; almost like using “chewies” those small chewable things that some dentists hand out to encourage a better fit of their patients aligners. Nonetheless I need to stop. Tooth pain is not my idea of fun, and whatever is causing it, I want it to stop, NOW, please. My orthodontist claims that tooth grinding with Invisalign isn’t something he’s ever heard of – but I’m convinced Invisalign is the reason.

So, if you have a failsafe method of stopping yourself from clenching, grinding or otherwise doing things with your jaw that cause ridiculous amounts of pain in your teeth please, please, share it with me. I would like to find some way to outwit the subconscious part of my brain that is doing this, before my dentist comes to the inevitable conclusion that my almost weekly visits are not as a result of tooth pain but are the consequence of a secret crush on him…!

6 thoughts on “Tooth Grinding With Invisalign & A little Toothache”

  1. Hi, I have just started my Invisalign treatment. Wow, the clenching – yes , very apparent from day 1. I am on day 3 now and doing it a little less. My trick is after the first clench, which is an almost involuntary reaction to the trays, I become much more aware and simply say RELAX whenever I feel the need to clench thereafter. It does actually work. Granted, not every time but slowly I am clenching less with my RELAX brain training. Try it. Anyway, I have vowed to create the most comprehensive Invisalign blog ever here: so you can read all about it. Hope you visit and enjoy. Cheer, David.

  2. Wow. I’m so glad I found this blog. I just got Invisalign 2 weeks ago. I am in constant, increasing pain. I grind my teeth HARD when I sleep with the Invisalign. I have a perfect bite. I had regular braces previously and my front teeth started to separate and space out 15 years later. I thought Invisalign would be a piece of cake like a retainer. No one told me they would put all of these “buttons” brackets on my teeth with gobs of glue. There are knots in my neck and shoulders the size of ping pong balls from all this grinding. My treatment is only supposed to last about 6 months, but I don’t know how I can last another 6 days! Does anyone know if there is a treatment/remedy for grinding while using Invisalign? I desperately need help and don’t go back to the dentist for another 5 weeks! I don’t want to call and sound like a wimp or whiner.

  3. I am on set 3 of 10 here in America. I have mild crowding on my lowers, and a mild overlap (not noticable to anyone but myself) on my top two front teeth. I decided to do the full top and full bottom because my two fronts although not noticable put a lot of strain on the gum in-between to the point where each time I brush it bleeds and I wake up with a wonderful dark brown blood stain running down my two front teeth. Super Sexy I know. So that’s why I got the top done, the bottom because of the crowding makes brushing and flossing basically impossable. No matter what I try to do, to keep the area behind my bottom teeth tartar free, plaque buildup ensues and inflammation and pain, and bleeding follow. So thats my story. But…. why I wrote this is because I am like I said on set three. So I have been wearing aligners for about 6 weeks now. I have noticed since my first set, that I am biting down extremely hard and clenching big time. It causes some serious jaw pain especially at the end of the day my jaw is exhausted. According to my dentist my bite is slightly off and he thinks that I clench my teeth whilst I sleep. Who knew I mean I’m sleeping I can’t feel a damn thing. Anywho… He also thinks that I grind which is fantastic. So… I am consistantly finding myself clenching my jaw (especially when highly stressed, focused or freezing cold) and I try to keep a space between my aligners. it is a constant battle that i am not winning at the moment. But I hope that by the end of this nonsense that my bite will be perfectly lined up to get rid of this issue. if not I am fully prepared to wear a night guard as I sleep. As for the other 16 hours of the day I will just have to fight the battle myself. I hear yah girl… it’s not easy and its totally exhausting… and biting food is a pain… I have to cut up everything. Seriously though… Its amazing that you have so many sets. But your teeth look amazing compared to your old picture. I will be reading your blog from now on. 🙂

  4. Hi there–first off, thank you SO MUCH for keeping this blog. I just got invisalign last week and your advice has been very helpful. Second, I noticed that you said in your first post (way back when you first got invisalign) that one effect of the aligners is that you feel as though you can’t shut your mouth properly. I actually stressed/panicked about this for thee first couple of days, which led me to unconsciously grind my teeth. (I will speak with my orthodontist about this) So do you think your teeth grinding issue could be because of the fact that the aligners throw off your ability to shut your teeth? properly?

  5. Please keep posting!!! I have enjoyed reading your blog, I read it all in two days… whilst at work. I am getting my invisalign hopefully next week. What has happened with your treatment to date from this last post? What a journey so far!!!

  6. I tend to grind and clench my teeth too. Periodically, I end up at my dentist’s with a throbbing tooth and, like you, he doesn’t doesn’t find anything wrong with a specific tooth. What he’s figured out is that my bite is somewhat off, and that when I grind and clench (which is made worse when I’m stressed), there’s more pressure on certain teeth and they start to hurt. He normally checks to see what’s rubbing and takes a little off the top so that they’re not rubbing the sore spot. Since I’ve gotten invisalign, I’ve noticed that the same thing happens more since my bite is jacked up right now (I’m on my 2nd tray and it’s going to be a while before it’s better). I’m pretty sure that it won’t be better until I’m done with invisalign, but at least my chewing/clenching/grinding is helping my teeth move better. 🙂 Good luck and hope it feels better for you soon.

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