Regardless of the orthodontic treatment that you choose, you’ll still require a phase of retention therapy. The retention of your straightened teeth to their desired position helps to solidify the alignment of your new teeth, preventing them from regressing to their initial positions.
The retention phase may not be all plain sailing, and you might find that your retainer doesn’t fit anymore. If this is the case, your new smile is at risk, as the retainer won’t function optimally if it’s not a snug fit.
There are a few reasons why this becomes the case. Should it happen to you, do not worry, as it is fairly normal. This post takes you through all you need to know when your retainer doesn’t fit anymore.
Why are retainers important?
To know why they are essential, it would be prudent first to understand what retainers are.
In layman’s terms, a retainer is an orthodontic appliance that helps your teeth stay in alignment after the initial teeth straightening treatment is concluded. Unfortunately, braces do not guarantee that the results will be permanent. At times, your orthodontist may also recommend active retainers to help in getting your teeth to the desired position post-braces.
Teeth have a natural tendency to go back to their initial position once the forces holding them back have been removed. Without a retainer in place, the chances of your teeth going back to their original position are quite high.
However, this regression also fades with time and can take up to 18 months for the teeth to stay in their new position permanently without any help. That’s why a retainer is crucial for these first few months.
Why don’t my retainers fit correctly?
While you’ll receive customized retainers from your orthodontist, it might feel too tight at the start, but this should all fade with consistent use. Moreover, you might also feel like the retainers no longer fit snugly to your teeth.
There are some reasons behind this happening, including:
You don’t wear them properly
Your teeth are in constant motion, especially during and immediately after your orthodontic treatment. Retainers play a significant role as they ensure that there’s no regression, as your teeth seek to go back to their initial positions.
If you do not follow your orthodontist’s instructions to the latter, you might start experiencing issues with your retainers. For instance, should you fail to wear for a few days, you might find that your retainer no longer fits in your teeth.
Moreover, if you fail to wear them as indicated, you might end up changing the trajectory of your teeth, meaning your retainer becomes obsolete at some point.
The retainer is damaged
There are different types of retainers. They are made from either metal or plastic – materials that can easily get damaged when exposed to certain conditions. For instance, playing contact sports may cause cracks, splits, or drops, causing damage to your retainers.
The retainer’s shape has been distorted
Sometimes, the shape of your retainer might get distorted in a way. This is essentially true for plastic retainers that can damage when washed with too hot water. It’s pretty easy to accidentally wash your retainer with water that’s too hot, causing it to become subtly warped. Fortunately, you can avoid this as your dentist will take you through how to clean retainers the right way.
Your teeth have shifted positions
Your teeth might shift positions, digressing from the initially planned path. Although rare, this is another possibility. However, this situation is mainly caused when the patient fails to follow all the orthodontist’s instructions.
How to know if your retainer doesn’t fit
You already know some of the reasons why your retainer may not fit your teeth correctly. However, do you know exactly what to look for before reaching out to your dentist for a replacement?
Here are 3 signs to watch out for:
1. It feels loose
The most obvious thing to look out for is when you feel like the retainer is loose. If you can feel like ‘playing around’ in your mouth and not fitting snugly as it should, it is the right time to reach out to your dentist.
2. It doesn't fit
If you clean your retainers in the dishwasher or you simply don’t wear them according to your orthodontist’s instructions, the chances are high that they won’t fit anymore. According to researchers, about 20% of people forget to wear their retainers after their first year.
However, your teeth are in constant motion and if you fail to wear your retainers for some time, you might find them not fitting into your teeth as initially intended.
3. There are small cracks
If you’re using plastic retainers, it is advisable to always have a look at them every now and then. Unlike wire, plastic retainers can easily crack when exposed to certain conditions. Even a tiny crack can make the retainers lose their integrity, hence won’t help you achieve the desired results.
How to make your retainer fit again
If you’re looking for a way how to get retainer to fit again, do not try to force it. Doing so will only further damage your retainer. Regardless of why your retainer doesn’t fit again, the only (and most recommended) solution is to contact your orthodontist.
Once you make an appointment with them, they will examine your teeth and the retainer to determine the issue. Afterward, they will either readjust or replace them based on their condition.
Either way, the best way to avoid all the hassle associated with loose retainers is to follow all your orthodontist’s instructions to the latter.
Most frequent questions and answers
Retainers help avoid the regression of teeth to their initial position before orthodontic treatment. If they don’t fit correctly, they will not be effective, and you’ll require them checked out by your orthodontist.
New retainers can cost approximately $150 – $500. The exact price point depends on the type of retainers (plastic, metal, permanent, or temporary) and the brand.
No. If your retainer doesn’t fit anymore on your teeth, you shouldn’t try to fix them. Contact your orthodontist, who will advise you on the best thing to do.