Wearing retainers is typically the final stage of orthodontic treatment. This is a critical part of every orthodontic treatment and is crucial to ensuring your teeth don’t move back to their original positions.
There are several reasons why your retainer might not fit properly. How to know if your retainer does not fit? What could cause this? What to do about it? This article will answer your questions on retainer fit issues and more. So, keep reading.
- 1 How Does a Retainer Work?
- 2 How To Know If Your Retainer Does Not Fit?
- 3 Why Does Your Retainer Not Fit?
- 4 If Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit Properly, What Can You Do?
- 5 Can You Adjust The Retainers?
- 6 What Happens If You Wear Retainers That Don’t Fit?
- 7 Conclusion
How Does a Retainer Work?
Retainers are orthodontic appliances made of plastic or metal. A retainer’s job is to maintain your teeth in the correct position after treatment with braces or clear aligners. It complements and reinforces the job done by braces or clear aligners.
A retainer is usually prescribed as a follow-up treatment to either and is seldom used on its own. Orthodontists prescribe that patients wear a retainer at night. This phase of treatment is known as retention in dentistry.
Retainers can be of two kinds:
- Fixed- these bond to the backside of the teeth
- Removable – these can be removed and cleaned
The duration will depend on an individual’s needs. But the unsaid rule for a retainer is to wear it at nighttime for a lifetime! It is the only fail-safe way to ensure that your teeth do not shift back, even slightly.
How To Know If Your Retainer Does Not Fit?
First, it is vital to understand what it means for a retainer to fit right. Although your retainer is made from a custom mold, it will feel slightly snug at the start. It is normal. Although it may cause mild discomfort, It will loosen up and fit easily and comfortably over time, alleviating any pain.
Wear retainers only if they fit correctly- meaning they must not feel too tight or loose. To check if they work precisely, gently place the retainer in your mouth. It must slip into place without applying force, and once set in place, it must not move.
Why Does Your Retainer Not Fit?
The most common reasons a retainer doesn’t fit properly are listed below.
Not wearing regularly
The most common reason for a retainer not fitting correctly is that your teeth have shifted. If the retainers fit right when you first got them, but they no longer fit, chances are your teeth have shifted, rendering the retainer ineffective. It typically happens when you don’t wear the retainer for the duration prescribed by your orthodontist.
Change in shape
Retainers won’t fit snugly if their shape gets altered. This can happen if some blunt external force was applied to it by dropping it on a hard surface, accidentally stepping or sitting on it or if the wire gets twisted or broken.
Plastic aligners can be easily affected by warmth. Washing your retainer in hot water or leaving it in hot places can cause them to warp and change its shape. And a deformed retainer won’t fit properly.
Eating with the retainer on
If you have been prescribed you must never eat or drink anything (except water) while wearing the retainer. Eating certain foods can cause wear and tear on the wire, compromising the integrity of your retainer.
Apart from food getting stuck in your retainer, they may even break it. The salt crystals in foods like pretzels and popcorn can corrode and weaken the metal in the retainer.
Retainer wear and tear
Another reason could be that you have outgrown your retainer. Even if you have been diligently wearing your retainer and taking care of it, your retainers may have gotten wider due to wear and tear. In this case, wearing it won’t keep your teeth in place. In short, such a retainer will not benefit you.
If Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit Properly, What Can You Do?
It is essential for you only to wear a properly fitted retainer that feels snug yet comfortable. You might damage your teeth or retainer if you try to wear it when it doesn’t work adequately.
For any reason, if your retainers don’t fit correctly, schedule a retainer check appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible. Your orthodontist can readily rectify it. They will analyze your retainer to determine if its form has altered or if your teeth have shifted.
The challenge with waiting too long to identify the fit issue is that your teeth will begin shifting back to their original positions. Wearing them all day for a few days may encourage your teeth to move into the proper place if the changes are minimal.
If they don’t, then you may need a new retainer. Or worse, you may have to resume your orthodontic treatment. Resolving this issue will prolong your treatment time.
Always carry your old retainer to your dentist’s office. It will help them create a new one for you.
Can You Adjust The Retainers?
Never try to adjust the retailer on your own at home. Plenty of quick fixes are available online, but following them and tampering with your retainer is not recommended. They are complex devices that require special instruments.
Moreover, an improperly set device could damage your teeth. So, don’t meddle with your dental appliance and leave the complicated work to your orthodontist.
What Happens If You Wear Retainers That Don’t Fit?
Wearing retainers that don’t fit is not recommended. Wearing ill-fitting retainers can be counter-productive. Your retainers are designed to hold your teeth in a specific position, and when this doesn’t happen, your teeth’s natural tendency to shift back kicks in, taking away the effectiveness of the retainer.
Retainers will determine your final orthodontic result, so put forth your best effort. Ensuring that your newly aligned teeth stay in place is up to you. Wear your retainers as directed by your orthodontist, take care of them, and don’t stop replacing them if you need to. Make all the time you spend wearing braces worth it!
How To Know If Your Retainer Does Not Fit?
Dr. Bill Redmond is a native of Southern California, the son of an orthodontist and the husband of a general dentist. That makes family gatherings pretty interesting…if you like teeth!