Retainers are necessary to wear after your braces come off to maintain your new smile. Since teeth naturally shift back to their starting positions, retainers will be an important part of your daily routine for the rest of your life, though the amount of time you must wear them decreases over time.
Discomfort is normal at first, but retainers are not supposed to hurt. If you are experiencing pain with your retainer and wondering if it is normal or why does my retainer hurt, continue reading to learn why your pain may be occurring and what you can do to fix it.
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Why Wear a Retainer?
Your orthodontist will offer you a choice of retainers after your braces are removed. If you opt for permanent lingual retainers, which are fastened to the backsides of your teeth, you never have to worry about them unless they become loose.
However, due to problems with flossing and the costs associated with lingual retainers, many patients opt for a removable retainer on the top row of teeth or even both rows. These retainers must be worn regularly within the first three months after your braces come off, 21-24 hours per day. After that, your orthodontist will give you a schedule of how long you must wear it moving forward.
Eventually, patients will only need to wear their retainers at night. It’s important to keep up your retainer use because, without it, your teeth will eventually shift back into their old positions and undo the months or even years you spent wearing your braces.
Retainers can even provide a subtler form of corrective treatment compared to braces. Your orthodontist may use them to close gaps in your teeth, which would come with its own treatment schedule.
Why Does a Retainer Hurt?
For a while, retainers may feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar, like a strong pressure being put on your teeth. However, this is the most that retainers should hurt.
If they feel like they sting or poke, there could be a piece of plastic sticking out or the shape of the retainer may be irritating your gums. Some retainers contain wires, and these could be poking out and making you uncomfortable.
Retainers that hurt could be fitted improperly to your mouth or become worn or broken over time. If your retainer hurts after the first few days or comes with a sharp pain rather than a dull pressure, speak with your orthodontist about getting it fixed or refitted.
It’s important never to ignore retainer pain. Not only is pain with a retainer not normal and will likely cause you to wear it less, but a painful retainer may not be working right. If there was a problem with the molding process or the retainer broke at some point, it needs to be corrected to make sure your treatment continues properly.
What is “Settling” and How Will it Affect My Retainer?
Orthodontists call “settling” the process of your teeth moving slightly after your braces come off. This particular post-treatment movement is beneficial. The teeth will naturally relax after being freed from the wires and brackets of the appliance and this usually improves your bite and alignment.
However, any movement that is visually noticeable is not considered “settling.” Orthodontists call this a “relapse,” which is when the teeth go back to their less healthy positions, often due to patients neglecting to wear their retainers as prescribed.
If you go weeks or even days without wearing your retainer, it can be uncomfortable or even painful to put it back on. If this is the case, do not wear your retainer. Schedule an appointment with your orthodontist so that they can examine your teeth and decide whether you should be refitted for a new retainer or what other treatment options are available to you.
Depending on the severity of the relapse, you may even need braces again. This is why it’s important to wear your retainer as prescribed and alert your doctor if it hurts to wear.
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. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized 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.