How to Know if Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit


Retention is one of the most important components of orthodontic treatment. It is critical for preserving your new smile, and it is worth taking care to ensure that you have an effective fit so that ongoing use does not cause the appliance to break down or become deformed due to lack of use.

Here’s how to know if your retainer doesn’t fit and what to do about it.

How to Know if Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit

If your retainer does not fit comfortably, there is no point in attempting to push it. When your orthodontist fabricates your retainer, they take great care to contour it precisely to your teeth. They’ll ask you to try it on in the office to ensure it fits properly.

If you wear your retainer irregularly or if it becomes broken or deformed, it will no longer fit snugly: it will feel either too loose or too tight, requiring you to force it into your mouth. When either of these situations applies to you, it is a good indication that your retainer does not fit properly and that you should take it to an orthodontist for assessment.

Clear plastic retainers are easily affected by heat, and if left in a heated environment for an extended period, they will likely lose their shape. If this occurs, you can either use your backup retainer or arrange an appointment with your orthodontist to have new retainers printed.

To determine whether your retainer still fits properly, carefully place it in your mouth and observe whether it slips into place. If your retainer is properly fitted, it will feel slightly snug at first and progressively relax up to alleviate any discomfort. If it does not fit comfortably, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to get assistance.

Retainers should be worn only if they fit comfortably. Attempting to force your retainer into place around displaced teeth might harm both your teeth and your retainer. It is advised to contact your orthodontist and make an appointment to adjust your retainer to fit your teeth more comfortably.

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Common Reasons Why Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit

  • The most common reason for a retainer to no longer fit is that its shape has been changed in some way. Typically, this occurs when the retainer is washed in too hot water. As stated before, hot water readily distorts the form of your retainer, and it’s not uncommon to use excessively hot water and cause the retainer to bend gradually, preventing it from fitting properly. 
  • Another possibility is that the retainer twisted due to a fall or stepped on, which bent the wire or distorted the plastic. 
  • We’ll analyze your retainer to determine if its form has altered, and if it has, we’ll create a new retainer to replace it. The second option is that your teeth have shifted, rendering the retainer ineffective. This typically occurs when a patient does not wear the retainer for the suggested number of hours per day. For example, if you do not wear the retainer for the full recommended number of hours per day, your teeth can shift positions and move out of good alignment imperceptibly. 
  • In this case, and provided your retainer still fits comfortably over your teeth, we will advocate wearing it full-time for several days to encourage your teeth to migrate into their proper positions. If this does not work or the retainer does not fit properly, we will need to schedule an inspection. We may then propose a new retainer or a brief course of orthodontic treatment to resolve the issue and restore your healthy smile.

Related: Wearing Your Retainers After Not Wearing Them For Years

What to Do When Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit 

Scheduling a retainer check appointment is an excellent option when you have concerns about your retainer or its fit. Your orthodontist can examine your retainer and identify any issues before they become more serious, and detect even slight changes that you may be unaware of. If your retainer does not fit well or you notice that your teeth are shifting substantially, your orthodontist will assist you in adjusting your retainer or fitting you for a new retainer.

If you currently wear a standard Hawley retainer, your orthodontist may alter it to re-fit your mouth. Your orthodontist will need to produce new clear plastic retainers from either the original or a new mold. 

Read More: Orthodontic Retainer Replacement: Steps, Signs & Costs

Contact Kumra Orthodontics to learn more about how to know if your retainer doesn’t fit

We hope this article has helped you understand the importance of wearing your retainer and what to do if you lose or break it. Retainers are essential to achieving and maintaining a perfect smile, so don’t let anything stop you from reaching your orthodontic goals. Contact Kumra Orthodontics today to learn more about starting the replacement process for your lost or broken retainer. We would be happy to help!