A lot can happen over time. We lose weight, gain muscle tone and our jawbone changes shape because teeth move around during sleep. When you are using a retainer you should keep an eye on the fitting. Over time your retainer may no longer fit perfectly. This may be due to movement or the device wearing out or warping. In this post, we’ll show you what to do when your retainer doesn’t fit anymore. Let’s get going.


Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay


What Kind of Retainers Can I get?

Retainers come in two varieties – Fixed and Removable. They both work similarly, but it will depend on your previous treatment which one is best for you based on the orthodontist’s opinion.

Permanent Retainers

Permanent retainers are devices that clamp teeth in place and can be made of either a metal wire or elastic. They usually last until adulthood but often lose their ability to hold the tooth after about 10 years, requiring them to be replaced periodically if worn during sleep.

Removable Retainers

The lab technicians use a clear plastic sheet to shape the removable retainer around your teeth mold, which can last anywhere from just a few months up to several years.


Can I Make it Fit Again?

If you can’t comfortably put your device back in your mouth, contact your orthodontist and schedule an appointment. During the visit, they will examine both the teeth and retainers to identify what needs adjusting. They may be able to adjust a Hawley-type appliance or replace it with clear plastic so that it fits perfectly into place again.


How Will I Know My Retainer no Longer Fits?

Retention is one of the most important parts of orthodontic treatment. It plays a crucial role in maintaining your new smile, and it’s worth taking care to ensure that you have an efficient fit so that continued wear doesn’t break down over time or become misshapen due to lack of use.


It plays a crucial role in maintaining your new smile


If your retainer feels loose when seated properly, which may be caused by pressure on either side from improper alignment with adjacent teeth, then contact an orthodontic office for assistance right away.

Clear plastic retainers are easily affected by heat, so if you leave the retainer in a hot place for too long, it’s likely to lose its proper shape. If this happens, you can switch to your backup retainer or schedule a visit with an orthodontist who will examine and replace the damaged one.

  • Tight-fitting
  • Loose-fitting
  • Swollen or irritated gums


What Happens if I Fail To Wear it?

You should always wear your device so that you don’t have to go back through the expensive and time-consuming orthodontic process again. Otherwise, if you are not wearing them, teeth can drift out of alignment over time eventually making it pointless for the treatment in the first place.


Should I Wear an Ill-Fitting Retainer?

If you feel your teeth shifting, but still have a device that fits without too much pressure, go back to wearing it all day. It may be sensitive for a few days as the sensitivity will eventually fade and make it more comfortable. Once this happens then reduce wear time to just at night-time.

If your retainer is damaged or too loose, you may find that the retention force of your teeth will be diminished. Your orthodontist should know what to do if this happens so contact an orthodontist as soon as possible.


Should I Repair it Myself?

Orthodontic appliances are quite complicated these days. Not only do they need to fit well, but adjustments require specialized instruments that you probably don’t have at home. If your device is too loose or tight in the mouth and it’s no longer fitting, then take a trip to see an orthodontist.



Retention will vary from patient to patient, and it can depend on the cause or severity of a case. Visit us and find out what retainer is best for you and how to care for it to get the maximum effect.

Dr. Adam Schulhof is the founder and medical director of the Schulhof Center for Cosmetic Orthodontics in New Jersey. Dr. Schulhof graduated with high honors from The University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey. He completed his orthodontic specialty training at the prestigious Columbia University.

Call the doctor today to schedule an appointment to see if your gaps need correcting and how.


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