Human teeth are constantly moving, even without braces. As adults age, their jaw changes shape and that affects tooth alignment. Even everyday activities like talking and eating cause slow tooth movement over time.
Due to this, there may come a point where a retainer doesn’t fit anymore. Although most people start out dutifully wearing their retainer every day, eventually life gets in the way. Irregular use is a common reason why retainers cease to fit.
If your retainer is giving you trouble, don’t panic, just read the guide below.
1. The Importance of Retainers
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A retainer is a custom device that aims to hold teeth in their new position after orthodontic treatment. Its goal is to prevent misalignment, as recently treated teeth move around easily.
It takes a lot of force and time to re-align teeth. Without a retainer to keep teeth in their new positions, they will slowly drift back to their original positions. The bones and ligaments in the mouth need time to adjust to their new positions to stay there.
2. How to Know If a Retainer Doesn’t Fit
A retainer no longer fits when it is too tight or too loose to wear anymore. If you have to force the retainer in, it no longer fits.
Sometimes, this is not due to user error. It may be that the retainer was damaged in some way. For example, retainers are susceptible to heat damage, so leaving them in a hot place like a locked car could make them lose their custom shape.
3. Wearing an Old Retainer Again
It is not advisable to wear a retainer that is too tight or too loose. It is especially important not to wear a retainer that causes pain. That may cause damage to the tissue, ligaments, or bones in your mouth.
Sometimes, an old retainer may fit without too much force and no pain, but it may feel uncomfortable. It may be possible to wear it consistently until your teeth get used to it again. In this case, only remove the retainer when eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth.
4. What to Do If a Retainer Doesn’t Fit
If your retainer no longer fits, it’s time to make an appointment with your local dental office. It’s likely that another mold will be taken of your teeth. This is so a new, custom retainer device can be molded for you.
When you receive your new retainer, make sure to store it in a cool, safe place. Try to wear it as often as specified by the orthodontist. For some people, this may be all day for a period of time. For others, it’s just at night.
More Dental and Other Health Advice
If your retainer doesn’t fit, it’s not the end of the world. At best, an orthodontist can refit you for a new device. At worst, the orthodontist may recommend another round of orthodontic care. Either way, the situation cannot improve until it is directly addressed.
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