How Should My Retainer Fit?

Even though your Damon™ clear braces are removed or your Invisalign® wear is complete, your treatment continues with the retention stage of orthodontic treatment! During the retention stage, you’ll wear a retainer to solidify your beautiful new smile. Retention is not defined by a specific time period. In fact, the long-term rule for retainer wear is “nightime for a lifetime!”

It’s an exciting transition from braces to retainers, but it can also feel a bit odd at first. Your teeth and gums aren’t used to this new appliance yet, but once you start wearing your retainer regularly, you won’t even notice it’s there!

Signs that Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit

If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms during your retention stage, this may indicate that you need a replacement retainer.

  • Severe pain in your teeth or gums
  • Persistent headache when wearing your retainer
  • Prolonged discomfort that doesn’t go away
  • Retainer does not seem to loosen up after a few days to a week of wearing it
  • Forcing your retainer to fit

If you’ve stepped on your retainer, slept on it, pulled it out of your mouth by gripping the front wire or submerged it in hot water, there’s a chance that your retainer has become damaged or deformed and no longer fits properly.

How do I know if my retainer fits?

There are a few different types of retainers. Clear retainers in combination with fixed (permanent) retainers are the most common combination. Other varieties such as Hawley retainers are also available and used in certain situations. Each type of retainer is made of a different material, so each one will have a different fit.

Once your orthodontic treatment is complete, we will custom-design a removable retainer to fit snugly around your teeth. Your retainer will hold your teeth in their post-treatment position to ensure that your smile stabilizes in its new, aligned position.

Are retainers supposed to be tight?

Yes. Your retainer should feel a bit tight at first; this is normal.

If your retainer doesn’t seem to loosen up or fit more comfortably with time, this may indicate that your retainer does not fit properly.

If your retainer is giving you a persistent headache, or you’re experiencing any pain or prolonged discomfort, this could also indicate an ill-fitting retainer.

Different types of retainers are vulnerable to different types of damage.

  • Clear retainers are made of a thermoformed plastic material (similar to Invisalign aligners) and are susceptible to damage and deformation by hot water, chemicals, excessive force, improper handling and improper storing.
  • Hawley retainers are made of acrylic and wire, and are susceptible to damage from chemicals, excessive force, improper removal from the mouth, improper handling and improper storing.

No matter the type of retainer you have, your retainer is delicate! Your first set of retainers are included in your treatment fee, but any replacement retainers will be your financial responsibility.

How to Make Your Retainer Fit Again

Forcing your retainer to fit in your mouth can damage your retainer or your teeth, and can reverse the progress you worked so hard for during your treatment period! Don’t force your retainer to fit; instead, give us a call as soon as possible and we’ll discuss the best course of action for you and your smile.

Don’t try any DIY remedies to make your retainer fit again. Please let us help! If your retainer doesn’t fit perfectly, we may be able to adjust your retainer to make for a better fit, without reducing its effectiveness.

Still have questions about how your retainer should fit?

Your retainer is designed to apply a strategic amount of pressure that maintains the position of your teeth and gums. It’s important that your retainer has a snug fit, but if the fit is causing you pain, please reach out to us or schedule an appointment with us. We want your retention stage to be effective, not painful.

If your retainer becomes deformed or damaged, please contact as soon as possible so we can be sure to replace your retainer before your teeth start to shift.

Ready to schedule your free orthodontic exam with us? We can’t wait to meet you! Get started today at any of our locations in East Spartanburg, West Spartanburg, Duncan, Gaffney or Union, South Carolina.

Or start from home with your free smile virtual assessment!

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