Why Does My Orthodontic Retainer Hurt?

Nov 10, 2022
 Why Does My Orthodontic Retainer Hurt?
It’s common to experience a little discomfort when wearing your retainer. But if you notice severe or worsening pain, you might have another issue that could be harmful to your oral health. Make sure you know the difference.

Patients who have been wearing braces and are ready to get them taken off are usually thrilled at the prospect. Finally! No more braces. But it’s important to remember the work your braces did will only continue if you wear your retainer afterward.

There are several different types of retainers, and the use of one or the other may be chosen based on different factors affecting your condition. Still, the importance of using your retainer properly cannot be overstated. But what if your retainer actually hurts? 

We at Gaiduchik Orthodontics want to help our patients avoid pain whenever possible. And though there are situations in which your retainer might hurt, Dr. Andrey Gaiduchik also knows this could be a sign that something is wrong with it. 

Why your retainer is important

You have spent months, maybe even years, wearing traditional or clear braces to improve your teeth' alignment. This was no easy feat! And that’s why it’s so important to take wearing your retainer seriously after you have moved past the braces stage. 

Studies show wearing retainers post-braces is essential to maintaining the alignment changes created by braces. In many cases, patients must use their retainers for at least four to six months after their braces are removed, but longer term — even lifelong — retainer-wearing regimens are common. It all comes down to the decisions made between you and your orthodontist. 

Still, you might think wearing your retainer isn’t a big deal, especially if you’ve heard that they can be uncomfortable. The truth is sometimes they can be. But it’s important to know why and what this means before you start wearing yours.

What retainer pain means

Experiencing pain with your retainer is similar to other types of pain. Mild pain early on usually isn’t much to worry about, but severe pain shows you there is definitely a problem. Here are the main reasons why your retainer might be causing you discomfort. 

It’s brand new

New retainers might be slightly uncomfortable for the first few days. This is because you have been wearing braces for a long time, and your teeth now have to settle into their new positions. Retainers help with this, which is why, when you put your retainer in, you might feel some pain. 

This type of retainer pain is short-term and mild. If you notice extreme pain when wearing your retainer, or if it lasts for longer than a week, you’re most likely dealing with something else. 

It’s not getting worn properly

If you start out wearing your retainer every day, then begin to slack and wear it only once a week, you might start to feel discomfort when you pop it in. This could be a sign that you're not wearing your aligner properly or often enough, and it means your teeth are beginning to lose the alignment created by your braces.

If you notice this issue, and you know you haven’t been wearing your aligner as much as your orthodontist prescribed, it’s probably time to make an appointment to ensure your alignment is still correct. 

It hasn’t been cared for properly

If you haven’t taken proper care of your retainer, you might start to feel pain. This can occur if you don’t clean your retainer several times a day with lukewarm water and if you don’t brush it gently before going to bed. 

Those who wash their retainers with hot water instead of warm water might also notice discomfort. Hot water can warp a retainer so that it doesn’t fit properly when reinserted into the mouth. Of course, not all retainers are removable, but you can still notice discomfort in a fixed retainer if you haven’t been practicing regular oral hygiene.  

It’s too tight

There is a possibility that your retainer is too tight. This is usually the case if pain persists past one week of wearing or worsens over time. If you think your retainer is actually too tight, it is best to return to your orthodontist to make sure it is properly fitted. 

Retainers are a necessary part of alignment, and that’s why we want to make sure you’re able to avoid pain and discomfort in the long-term. To make an appointment at our Carmichael, CA, office, call or book an appointment online. We’re always here to help!



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