Better to wear the aligners, otherwise it hurts more and takes longer

Photo of a girl

Leila, 13 years old

“The great thing about plastic aligners is that you can take them out to clean your teeth and eat. But you do need more discipline. I always felt bad if I didn't wear them. That wouldn’t have happened with fixed braces.”

I found out at the end of fifth grade that I had to have fixed braces. That was about two-and-a-half years ago. Because I have an overbite, so my back teeth don’t fit together properly.

My normal dentist had already told me a long time ago that I would need fixed braces. Then at some stage I went to the and he said straight away: “Oh yeah, we need to do something there quickly.”

I wasn’t really pleased to be getting braces

I wasn't too happy about it at first. Lots of people in my class have been wearing braces since elementary school. Some of them have fixed braces. And most of them say that those fixed braces with brackets are quite painful at first and that they're annoying when eating.

That scared me right away and I thought “I don’t want fixed braces.” But everything turned out fine. I was given removable braces to start off with, and I was able to choose the color. After that I had clear plastic aligners instead of fixed braces – one at the top, one at the bottom.

I have clear plastic aligners and am very happy about that

You get ten different plastic aligners at every appointment. You then have to change them: Every week, you put the next one in to move the teeth a little bit more each time. And after ten weeks, I have another appointment and he gives me the next batch.

The best thing about my aligners is that I can eat whatever I want because I can take them out. On the other hand, I found it hard to actually wear them as often as I should. You do need discipline for that, and I sometimes felt bad for not wearing them. That wouldn't have been an issue if I’d had fixed braces.

You do need more discipline

I did struggle with discipline at first. I didn't wear the removable braces much at first. Then they said that wasn’t going to work, we needed a different solution. And then I got the plastic aligners.

I often couldn't really be bothered, and thought: “Have I already worn them for long enough? Can I take them out again now?”. I’m actually supposed to wear them for 22 hours each day. I can take them out to eat and to brush my teeth. To balance things out, I always tried to at least wear them at night. But it got better over time.

Whenever I get new aligners my teeth hurt for two days

If I put new aligners in at the beginning of the week, I do notice that they really pull on my teeth for the first two days. Also, the new aligners often don’t fit my teeth properly. I have an overbite, and there are these little plastic wings that stick out at the back and don’t lie exactly on my teeth.

Then I stand in front of the mirror and get annoyed. It only moves into place after a couple of days. My teeth sometimes wobbled, too, but that wasn’t too bad. They didn’t wobble so much that I thought they were going to fall out... it was just unpleasant.

Another thing that's unpleasant is when they stick new attachments onto my teeth during appointments. The attachments help to keep the aligners in place. Before sticking the new attachments on, they remove the old ones with a machine that makes a horrible noise. That’s a bit weird.

My gums bled more often than they did before. And I had more ulcers, little open sores, on the inside of my cheeks. That wasn't very nice. But I could live with it.

I also noticed that the aligners got in the way when I was speaking. I lisp more than I used to. You also end up spitting more when you’re talking. My friends pointed that out.

I often argued with my mom about wearing them

We had lots of arguments, especially at first. My mom would remind me that I should wear my aligners, and I always used to moan because it hurt. But I noticed myself that I had to be better about wearing them. In fact, I learned that the new aligners then hurt twice as much if I hadn’t worn them much the week before. Because your teeth change again.

And the aligners don’t fit properly either because they each follow on from the one before. I then sometimes had to put the eighth aligner back in when I should have been wearing the tenth, so basically lost two weeks.

I even had to re-order a whole batch once because I hadn’t worn them enough. The treatment then takes longer and costs more. So I accepted that I need to wear them more because I don’t want that either. I want to be done with the treatment. My treatment has now lasted two years. I’ll be done soon. The 36th aligner will be the last.

I had to decide where to keep my aligners

I had to get used to a lot of everyday things at first, like finding a place to always keep my aligners. Particularly if I'm out and remove them to eat something. One time I just wrapped them in a tissue and put them in my bag. And then accidentally threw them in the trash. I now have a fixed place for them in the bathroom and in my school bag.

Wear them, even if it’s annoying – otherwise it takes longer!

The color-changing stickers on the aligners really helped me to keep wearing them. They're blue to start off with and turn lighter the longer you wear them. I didn’t have that checking system at first, but it really helps now. The only stupid thing is that they sometimes fall off. I sometimes woke up in the middle of the night with a piece of plastic in my mouth.

My advice to everyone would be: Wear them even if it's annoying. Otherwise, it just hurts when you wear new aligners. And it takes longer. My friend has the same ones as me and didn’t wear them. She still has them now even though she could have been done two years ago. Cleaning is also important.

I don’t regret anything, despite it all. My teeth now look much nicer, and if it gets rid of my overbite it was all worthwhile.


Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Created on February 13, 2023

Next planned update: 2026


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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