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My Retainer Doesn’t Fit Anymore – What Do I Do?

my retainer

Kenilworth, IL – The day your braces come off is an exciting day, but it doesn’t mean your orthodontic treatment is over. To keep those pearly whites in their new, straighter positions, you’ll have to wear a retainer. But what happens if your retainer doesn’t fit anymore?

First, let’s look at the most common reasons why a retainer may no longer fit properly.

“The first reason your retainer may no longer fit is because you haven’t been wearing it as often as you should,” says Dr. Stosich. “This is especially true in the period after your braces are removed. Your teeth won’t be used to their new locations yet, and the retainer is needed to help hold them in place while everything stabilized. Not wearing it as your orthodontist tells you to could cause your teeth to shift. And even a slight shift can cause your retainer to no longer fit.”

To maintain your new smile, it is crucial to wear your retainer exactly as your orthodontist told you to. You cannot compare your retainer wear to anyone else’s because your smile is unique. Just because your neighbor’s orthodontist told him he could only wear his at night doesn’t mean you should follow suit.

Another common reason why a retainer may no longer fit is damage to the retainer. It’s important to care for it properly to ensure it remains effective.

Dr. Stosich provides all of his patients with custom clear retainers, similar to an Invisalign aligner, when treatment is finished. And just like with Invisalign or iD custom clear aligners, you’ll need to take some precautions to care for your retainer.

First, avoid exposing your retainer to high temperatures. This includes drinking hot beverages with the retainer in, running them under hot water, or attempting to boil them to clean them . Heat can warp the retainer, causing it to fit improperly.

Eating with the retainer in, or biting them in any way, can also damage them, which can then affect how they fit in your mouth.

So, what should you do if your retainer no longer fits? The best thing to do is call your orthodontist right away. If you go too long without wearing a retainer, especially in the first few months after your braces are removed, you could experience a relapse and require orthodontic treatment again. The sooner you get to your orthodontist, the better. You worked hard for that smile – wearing your retainer as directed by your orthodontist and caring for it properly will ensure that smile lasts a lifetime.


  • Michael S. Stosich, DMD, MS, MS

    Dr. Michael Stosich is a board-certified orthodontist and the director of orthodontics at the University of Chicago Medicine. He is known for his extensive experience in leading clinical enterprises, publishing, and lecturing both in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Stosich has expertise in starting, growing, and maintaining successful orthodontic practices, including those in pediatric dentistry, general dentistry, and multi-specialty clinics. He serves on the editorial board of several publications and has been involved in innovating patient care and education, focusing on the future of dental and orthodontic healthcare.

Stosich Consulting