Retainers maintain the changes in your teeth after your braces are removed. One of the last things you will do as part of your regular treatment is have a retainer fitted for your new smile. Your orthodontist will then advise you on how to wear it and for how long.
After a few months or even years, your retainer may only fit halfway. It may feel tight to put on and difficult to take off. Continue reading to learn about why this happens and how you can fix it.
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Why Do I Have to Wear a Retainer?
After your braces come off, your orthodontist will take a mold of your teeth to create your retainer from hard, medical-grade plastic. Wearing a retainer maintains your teeth in their aligned positions, preventing them from moving back to their misaligned positions.
Depending on the treatment you received and other factors like your age, your orthodontist will instruct you differently on how long you need to wear your retainer. Most recommend 22 hours per day for at least 4 months and up to 12 months to give your teeth the best chance of staying straight. After that, most orthodontists recommend wearing it at night or the equivalent number of hours per day for the rest of your life.
Some patients ignore this advice and leave their retainers in their sock drawers or lose it and never replace it. They soon find themselves with misaligned teeth again in years or even months, depending on how long they already wore it. Instead of paying for two sets of braces, a retainer gives you the best chance of making the most of the treatment you already paid for.
Why Doesn’t My Retainer Fit Anymore?
They mold your retainer to the shape of your smile after your braces come off. If the retainer feels tight or uncomfortable and resists being put on, don’t force it into place. This could not only break the retainer but damage your teeth as well.
There are many reasons your retainer doesn’t fit anymore, not all of which will require orthodontic treatment. The most common causes of an ill-fitting retainer include:
- Not wearing it as prescribed, allowing the teeth to go back out of alignment
- Mouth trauma while wearing the retainer, which could have misshapen it
- Leaving it in a hot place like a closed car, which could cause it to warp
Once you’ve realized your retainer doesn’t fit, you should either switch to a backup or contact your doctor for an appointment. They’ll be able to tell you if the retainer itself is misshapen or if your teeth have shifted positions and require additional treatment.
How Can I Fix My Retainer?
If you know your retainer doesn’t fit because it feels like you have to force it onto your teeth, you may wonder how it can be fixed. Thankfully, you may not have to buy a whole new retainer (which can cost $200-$300).
The first thing to remember is to not try to reshape your retainer at home. Even if you think you can bend the plastic into the right shape, it won’t be as accurate as the orthodontist’s adjustments. Wearing a retainer that has the wrong shape can have a clear and lasting negative impact on the shape of your smile, which will adjust to the retainer’s profile. You also risk breaking the piece altogether, which will cost you a full replacement at your next visit.
Your orthodontist will use special tools that can correct the shape of your retainer, if possible. Remember that retainers are medical devices. They help you keep thousands of dollars worth of treatment, not a plastic toy that you can bend with plyers.
Note that a retainer can not only be too tight, but too loose. A loose retainer will probably not damage your teeth, but it also won’t “retain” the work completed by your braces. You should be able to feel your retainer fit snugly around your teeth without it being uncomfortable or slipping off.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. We can customize our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.