When Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit Anymore | Heller Orthodontics

When Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit Anymore | Heller Orthodontics
Posted on 01/17/2017

There may be a time when you put in your retainer and it doesn’t quite fit anymore. Orthodontic retainers are devices that keep your teeth as straight as possible. There is not a retainer out their that can prevent all tooth movement, even the ones that are permanently glued to your teeth allow some movement. The ultimate goal of retainers is to make sure that they keep this movement to a minimum.


At Heller Orthodontics, located in Bethesda and Laurel, we emphasize the importance of retainers and making sure that you maintain the straight beautiful teeth that you took the time and effort to achieve.

Movement of the Teeth

Some of the movement that occurs after your braces are removed is not only acceptable, it is welcome. “Settling” is the process of your teeth erupting and drifting slightly so that they fit better in your mouth than the day that your braces were removed. This is more desirable for the teeth located in the back. When you first receive your retainers, they might feel a little snug at first, but they will loosen up with wear. If a retainer doesn’t fit right on removal day, we either remake it or change the kind of retainer completely. It is important to let us know if you are having any problems with the fit of your retainers as soon as possible. We can usually see you within a day or two in Bethesda or Laurel to make the minor adjustments needed to make retainer wear comfortable.

No Longer Wearable

When your retainers are no longer fitting properly, it’s typically do to two different reasons. The first occurs when a patient does something that distorts the shape of the retainer. This can happen with a clear plastic retainer that looks like Invisalign is cleaned in water that is too hot. Water that is too hot can cause the heat sensitive plastic to “relax” and lose its shape, allowing the underlying teeth to move. These types of retainers should only be rinsed out with lukewarm water. Retainers with acrylic and wires can be deformed by being inserted or removed incorrectly, such as using the front wire as a handle, being slept on or stepped on. Once the retainer has changed shape, it needs to be adjusted or replaced.

The second and most common cause of retainers no longer fitting properly is that they are not being worn as prescribed. If your retainer fit at the orthodontist’s office but it no longer does, this is most likely attributed to the fact that you have not worn it enough and your teeth have shifted. If the movement is minimal, and they still fit but are tight, try wearing them full-time to see if the teeth move back to its original position. If the teeth do not realign within a couple days, you will need to see an orthodontist right away. The longer you wait, the more movement that can occur, and the more likely you will need to undergo another round of braces or Invisalign.

Contact Heller Orthodontics

Prevention is the best medicine and noticing that your retainer feels tight is the first sign of trouble. Take action by contacting our Bethesda or  Laurel offices to schedule an appointment to improve the fit of your retainer. If you are interested in getting the straight teeth you deserve, feel free to check out our treatment options, like Invisalign and clear and metal braces, or request an appointment online. We look forward to your visit and remember a smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.