My Retainer Isn’t Fitting Anymore

My Retainer Isn’t Fitting Anymore
Posted on 03/20/2017

GettyImages-672039454Once you've finished the active phase of your orthodontic treatment, we remove the braces from your teeth and begin what's called the retention phase of treatment. This is one of the most important parts of your treatment as this phase is designed to protect your new smile by holding your teeth in their new positions. While your teeth will be in the correct positions after wearing braces, the bones, ligaments and tissues that support your teeth haven't yet adapted to their new positions and are still "settling" into place. This means that without a retainer, your teeth will shift back into their old positions, which would undo all your hard work!

Why Retainers Don't Fit Correctly

When a patient tells us that his or her retainer is no longer fitting right, there are just two things that could have occurred. The most common reason why a retainer no longer fits is because the patient has done something to distort the shape of the retainer. This can happen when a plastic retainer is cleaned in water that is too hot. Plastic retainers can easily lose their original shape when they're washed or soaked in water that's too warm. This is why it's very important to never use hot water when cleaning a plastic retainer.

Plastic retainers can also change shape if they're handled incorrectly. For example, using the front wire as a handle to put the retainer in and take it out can cause the retainer to bend, wherein it won't fit correctly. A retainer can also change shape when it's slept on or accidentally stepped on.

The second most common cause of ill-fitting retainers is when they are not worn as directed. When your braces come off, your orthodontist will provide you with a retainer along with very specific directions regarding how and when to wear your retainer. If you fail to wear your retainer as directed, your teeth will gradually shift out of their new positions, resulting in your retainer either fitting very tightly or not fitting at all. If this happens to you, and you're still able to put your retainer over your teeth, try wearing it full time for several days  to see if your teeth move back to where they were before. If you're teeth don't realign after a few days however, you should contact us right away for an appointment.

How We Handle Retainers That Don't Fit Correctly

When a patient returns to our office with a retainer that isn't fitting right, the first thing we do is evaluate the condition of the retainer. If it looks good, then our orthodontist will see how much the teeth have moved since the braces were removed. If the front teeth still look good and only the back teeth have moved, the retainer may be adjusted to match the position of the back teeth. But if the teeth have moved so far that adjusting the retainer doesn't work, replacing the retainer or putting braces back on the teeth may be the patient's only options. This is why it's so important to always wear your retainer as directed!

If you notice any problems with your retainer, please contact us right away for an appointment so we can check the problem and remedy it as soon as possible!