girl with a retainer

My Retainer Is Loose & Doesn’t Fit -Replacing Retainers

The purpose of a retainer is to support the treated tooth, so if you feel that it is not touching your teeth or if you can move it with your tongue, it is probably loose. Get it fixed by your orthodontist.

The retainer may not fit properly if you go too long without wearing it, causing your teeth to move back to their pre-orthodontic positions. In the event that you wear your retainer as directed and it suddenly doesn’t fit, it may have been damaged or warped.

In this post, we’ll take you through the reasons why your retainer won’t fit and what to do to correct it. Let’s get going.

How do You Know if Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit?

A retainer is a necessary part of your orthodontic treatment. If it doesn’t fit comfortably, you should not try to force it in place by wedging or chewing on the plastic. This weakens the material and can cause discomfort during wear.

Your doctor will have examined how well your new teeth are fitting into their proper position before giving you one that fits snugly around them. 

If you have fitting issues or feel more discomfort than usual then you may need an appointment with your provider. Your gums may swell too, this may or may not be a fitting issue.

You Haven’t Worn the Retainer as Instructed

Your retainers are not just a nice accessory for your smile; they’re the third stage in orthodontic care. Without them, there is no force preventing teeth from drifting back to their original position and that means you’ll find yourself with crooked or misaligned teeth once again.

If you never wear your retainer, it can mean going through all of those expensive treatments only to lose what you’ve accomplished. So make sure to keep up on wearing yours every day.

WHAT TO DO: Just wear the retainer as instructed by the orthodontist.

2 The Retainer is Warped

Drinking hot beverages with the tray in, running them under hot water, or attempting to boil them to clean them will warp the plastic. Heat can warp a retainer and cause it not to fit properly. 

Eating with the tray in is also bad because they are brittle at this point which means that biting down on anything could break their retainers.

WHAT TO DO: Always remove the retainer before eating. NEVER leave it in direct sunlight. In terms of cleaning, only use warm water and no hard chemicals. 

3 The Retainer is Damaged

Playing sports can damage the retainer. Contact sports will mean possible cracks and splits in the plastic. Dropped or squashed retainers will also suffer some form of damage.

WHAT TO DO: Always remove the retainer before sports activities. Keep the device in its carry case when not wearing this. 


What Types of Retainers are There? 

There are two types of retainers in use across the world. Both of these orthodontic devices have the same results and it will depend on your previous treatment, as well as which retainer is most effective for you based on that particular orthodontist’s expertise. 

A Permanent Retainer 

Permanent retainers are made of a metal wire that is glued to your teeth and attached to them so they cannot move. Usually, this wire has either a smooth or braided texture with the latter being more popular due to its increased functionality for people who grind their teeth excessively when resting.

It’s fitted over what remains of any tooth movement from braces while in place which can last up until you’re an adult but usually needs replacing after 10 years as it loses elasticity.

Removable Retainer

Removable retainers are made in-house by lab technicians. The retainers are created from a clear plastic sheet that is shaped with heat over an individual’s teeth mould model to create the perfect fit for their mouth and hold all of your natural teeth securely into place during treatment, lasting anywhere between two months up until life. 


In order to fit your teeth in their new positions, your retainer will be made to fit them. Physical discomfort should not occur if the structure is constructed properly. Retainers come in a few different types, and depending on what type you get, you may experience different changes or limitations. For the maxillary (upper) arch, traditional retainers are essentially wires that run between the canines on the visible side of your teeth, with clasps that snap over the bulges on your molars to rest passively on those molars without exerting any force.

They are made of acrylic that is about one millimetre thick on the inside and cover your roof of your mouth (to provide stability). Due to the smaller space for your tongue, speaking can be a little difficult as you need to retrain your tongue to avoid lisping. The best way to achieve normal phonetics is to read out loud for a few hours in private.

Nowadays, most retainers fit directly over the teeth due to Invisalign and other technologies. You should not experience any pain if these are made correctly. Wearing retainers will prevent you from closing your teeth together completely, so any discomfort will be psychological. Since you started treatment, your teeth may have moved. In the original location, they were pushed in by your cheek muscles and pushed out by your tongue. Unless you wear your retainers, these forces will drive your teeth back to where they started! If you maintain good retainer care techniques, it’s likely that your smile will remain perfect. Even after braces come off. We understand what it takes to keep teeth clean and straight. 

Whether you want to get full orthodontic perfection or to cover up crookedness, we can advise you. Get in touch with our orthodontic office today to schedule your first appointment with Dr. McDermott.