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Over time, it is possible to find that your retainer is no longer fitting properly. Usually, this means that your retainer has become distorted or misshapen or that your teeth have shifted due to irregular retainer use.

Most commonly, a retainer doesn’t fit anymore because it has been distorted somehow. This typically happens when you wash the retainer in water that’s too hot. You can easily distort your retainer’s shape with hot water–overheating can indirectly warp your retainer, making it impossible to fit. You may also have a warped retainer from dropping it or getting stepped on, which bends the wire or warps the plastic. In any case, it would be best to contact us to have your retainers replaced.

What Happens if I Don’t Wear My Retainer?

Just as the failure to wear your retainer can cause shifts in your teeth, it can also create unwanted changes in your bite.

During the straightening of teeth, your retainers are also fixing your bite. Your bite tends to shift back if you don’t wear your retainers, leading to uncomfortable sensations when you bite down on something. Retainers are worn immediately after orthodontic treatment to hold teeth in place while the surrounding bone rebuilds and stabilizes them. This phase is crucial for maintaining straight teeth in the long term. Your teeth shift without the retainer, so not wearing your retainer might lead you to need a new pair of retainers or even start with braces all over again.

How Do I Know if My Retainer Doesn’t Fit Anymore?

Here are four reasons why your retainers don’t fit anymore:

#1: Cracks Can Be Found

Innovation has made retainers available in a few different options: they can be made of wire, plastic, or a combination of both.

If you notice cracks in the plastic of your retainer, it’s time to replace it. Otherwise, these cracks will grow, and your retainer won’t be strong enough to hold your teeth in place.

#2: Your Retainer Feels Loose

If your retainer feels loose, it’s time to replace it. With continued use, retainers become wider and unfitting. Once this happens, you will no longer be able to keep your teeth in place. Getting a replacement before that happens is essential since your teeth will shift back into their original positions at that point.

#3: Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit Anymore

When you put your retainer back on after a long period of not wearing it, you’re much more likely to experience pain. Wearing your retainer less frequently isn’t a sign that it’s broken, just that you need to wear it more often. You might have to return to braces if you don’t!

Retainers do lose their shape over time. You may experience this problem if you use a dishwasher or other cleaning methods, such as boiling water. Let us know when you feel that your retainer is no longer fitting well.

#4: Your Retainer Shows Calcium Buildup

Lastly, you will notice calcium build up on your retainer as time passes, namely the white spots you see on your retainers, caused by excess saliva. This happens when your retainers aren’t properly cleaned. But don’t feel bad; even with the utmost care, this can still happen.

You need to properly clean and maintain your retainer if you don’t want these white spots to appear. We recommend that you clean your retainer every time you remove it from your mouth. Otherwise, the debris on the retainer can harden, making it harder to remove. A soft-bristled toothbrush and mild dish soap or just water are both suitable for brushing your retainer. Never use anything abrasive (including toothpaste) to clean your retainer.

Is It Bad to Wear Your Retainer if It Doesn’t Fit?

When you have to force your retainer into place, you shouldn’t wear it. Forcing a retainer that doesn’t fit can damage your teeth or the retainer itself.

In cases where your teeth have shifted due to irregular wear, but your retainer still fits without too much force, wear it full-time until it becomes comfortable again. You should only remove your retainer when brushing, eating, or drinking. At first, you may feel sensitivity or pain in your teeth for a few days, but that will fade, and your retainer will become more comfortable. When that happens, you can reduce wearing it to nighttime only.

In addition to being misshapen or damaged, a loose retainer can also cause damage to your teeth. This is because loose retainers do not provide the necessary force to keep your teeth from shifting. 

Can You Force Your Retainer to Fit Again?

Don’t just start wearing your retainer again if you’ve stopped wearing it for a long time. In most cases, your teeth have already started shifting back towards their original positions, and you may hurt yourself if you try to force your retainer into place. Your retainer should fit easily on your teeth, so if you have to force it back on, it is probably not a good fit, and you’ll most likely have to get a replacement.

How Long Should Retainers Last?

In general, orthodontic patients will require a new retainer every twelve months due to normal wear and tear, but this will all boil down to how you take care of them.

Can Retainers Be Adjusted?

Braces can be adjusted, but retainers cannot. It’s best to talk to us if you think your retainers don’t fit anymore and need to change them.

If you’re a current orthodontic patient and your retainers no longer fit, see us right away. We can help you find a suitable retainer for your teeth and make sure it fits comfortably. Wearing a retainer that doesn’t fit properly can cause severe damage to your teeth, so it’s essential to act quickly.

Schedule your COMPLIMENTARY Consultation!

Choose Loudoun Orthodontics for Your Orthodontic Treatment!

There are many reasons why your retainers don’t fit you anymore, and most of these may be because you forget to put them on immediately or lose them for a while. Whatever the case, never force your retainers into your teeth; you’ll only end up hurting yourself. Instead, it’s best to contact us directly if you find that your retainers no longer fit. We are here to help! Reach out today to book a free, easy consultation at our friendly office in Lansdowne, VA! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health!