Managing the Urge to Bite & Grind with Clear Aligners

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Dear Dr. Barakat,

After 3-4 days of wearing my Invisalign, they get loose, and I have the constant urge to chew on them and grind them. Am I messing up my treatment? How can I stop doing this? I’m worried after my treatment is done, I will have formed a habit of grinding my teeth.

Dear Concerned Parent,

First, congratulations on choosing Invisalign for your new smile! No one is more excited than your Orthodontist when you decide to start the journey to a healthy, straight, well-aligned smile!

If you think back to your initial consultation with your Orthodontist, you received a 3D scan of your mouth and saw a series of photos that predicted how your smile will end when treatment is finished. The photos showed the result, but they don’t really explain the process of getting there.

Each Invisalign aligner is designed to move your teeth an infinitesimal amount into the perfect position. This movement takes approximately 1-2 weeks. An aligner is made to fit your teeth tightly at the start and loosely by the end. So, the aligner you put in on day 1 will feel tight but will feel perfect by day 4, and by the time you are due to change it, it will feel quite loose. This is because it holds your teeth in place, waiting for the next aligner tray to start shifting your teeth with the next series of small movements.

During that period, your aligners feel loose; they are actually doing an important job. They are holding your teeth in the proper position so that the bone in your jaw can remodel itself. This step in the process is vitally important to avoid complications such as root resorption and bone erosion.

Invisalign aligners are actually a great way to stop the damage caused by grinding your teeth (which is known as bruxism). The aligner puts a barrier between the chewing surfaces of your teeth so the enamel isn’t damaged by the clenching and grinding that can occur. If, however, your aligner is damaged or cracked, it’s important to contact your Orthodontist for an appointment so that they can examine the aligner and determine if alternate treatment is an option for you.

If you find yourself grinding your teeth and chewing the aligners during this phase, talk to your Orthodontist about options you can use to stop the habit. As your bite aligns properly, the urge to grind and chew the aligners should resolve itself. As with all new experiences, wearing Invisalign aligners takes some adjustment but will be worth it when you can enjoy your healthy, new smile!

Dr. Rana Barakat, a board-certified specialist in Orthodontics, has been proudly serving Northern Virginia for more than 20-years! She has built her practice on a personal touch and excellent treatment.

As a parent, she understands wanting the best for your children by giving them beautiful, confident smiles. She makes it a priority to ensure optimal results, but also believes that each patient’s experience during treatment is just as important as the clinical result. As the 2015-16 President of the Virginia Association of Orthodontists, Dr. Barakat’s dedication and expertise reflect why her peers continue to nominate her as a Top Dentist.

Barakat Orthodontics is located at 45745 Nokes Blvd., Ste. 175, Sterling, VA 20166. Connect by visiting them online, or get social with them on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. Barakat Orthodontics can also be reached at (703) 433-9330.