Why Does My Retainer Hurt When I Put it In?

Retainers are removable orthodontic devices typically made of plastic and metal, customized to fit to the upper and lower teeth. Although many retainers look alike, no two retainers are identical. Many individuals wear a retainer for a period of time after braces to keep the teeth from shifting or others may wear a retainer to close any spaces that exist between the teeth.

Wearing A Retainer After Braces:

After years or months of braces, wearing a retainer can seem like a reward for many patients! In fact, it can be a relief just knowing that if needed you can remove the retainer for special events, sports or photos.

Text: Since retainers are shaped with heat, they’ll distort if you keep them in your pocket on a sunny afternoon.

Generally, after braces are removed, it is expected that the retainer or set of retainers be worn for a specific amount of time and frequency dependent on the dental professionals instruction. For example, some patients may wear a retainer for the first three months following braces during the night and day. Then, after those three months, the retainer may only need to put their retainer in at nighttime. The retainer ensures that the teeth do not shift or move the teeth that the braces worked so diligently to correct.

Wearing a Retainer to close spaces:

Others may have to wear a retainer to maintain alignment and close any gaps that are between the teeth. Retainers may be worn for a longer period of time in order to close the spaces and then keep the gaps closed by holding the teeth in proper place.

Why would my retainer hurt?

No matter if you wear a retainer following braces or for correction of gaps between the teeth, since retainers can be removed, it can be difficult to remember to put them back in the mouth. This may be especially true for individuals that only need to wear their retainers at night. As a result of only nightly wear of a retainer, after a few days, if the retainer has been forgotten to be worn whenever it is put back in the retainer may feel sore, tight or even hurt to some extent. This feeling is usually a result of pressure and this kind of discomfort tends to go away once the retainer is worn regularly again. If discomfort does not go away after regular wear of the retainer, it is best to contact your dental professional.

If the pain you are feeling doesn’t feel like “tightness” or pressure, it could be that there is a piece of metal or plastic in the retainer irritating the gums or cheeks. This could be from a rough edge or strayed wire. However, a dentist or orthodontist can easily adjust this and make sure the retainer feels as good as new.

Other causes of pain due to a retainer could be that it is broken or improperly fitted. If you feel any sharp, rough or sore spots this can be a large indicator that somewhere on the retainer is irritating the teeth or gums. If this is the case, you will need to contact the orthodontist so that he or she can properly fix the issue.

Text: The way your teeth may move if you don’t wear your retainer is unique to you so a dentist or orthodontist can’t predict it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Retainers


What is the purpose of a retainer?
The main goal of a retainer is to keep your teeth straight after you’ve undergone orthodontic treatment. Since your teeth are used to shifting even after you remove your braces, a retainer will keep them in the proper position so you can keep the smile you’ve worked so hard to achieve.


How can I keep my retainer in good shape?
If you get a removable retainer, it’ll be your responsibility to keep it in good shape. You’ll need to rinse it with warm water every time you take it out of your mouth and brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a bit of toothpaste. You can use denture cleaner to clean it as well.


What else can retainers do other than keep teeth straight?
While retainers are primarily intended to keep teeth straight, they can also be used to help people with TMD or temporomandibular disorders, which are typically the result of bite problems or teeth grinding.


What is a Hawley retainer?
A Hawley retainer is a traditional wire retainer that’s adjustable and can move teeth. In some cases, it is used to resolve minor orthodontic issues instead of braces.


How long are retainers worn?
The amount of time you’ll need to wear your retainer will depend on your unique situation. In most cases, patients have to wear retainers every day for the first six months after they get their braces removed. Once their teeth become more stabilized, they can wear it less frequently.


Do retainers hurt?
At first, it may feel a bit uncomfortable to wear a retainer because your mouth simply isn’t used to it. After a few days, however, any pressure and discomfort should subside and you should forget that you’re even wearing your retainer.


How do I clean a retainer?
The thought of going days without brushing your teeth sounds scary right? Think of the amount of bacteria that are on the teeth and what happens when you miss one day! Take this and relate it to a retainer. Quite often, many individuals go days without cleaning a retainer when in reality this is not a good habit to have! Regularly cleaning a retainer can help to reduce the amount of bacteria on the teeth, so if you have been avoiding cleaning it, you should definitely start!

What you can do is to simply brush the retainer with lukewarm water and toothpaste to remove any debris or “white” that may be on the retainer. You can also soak the retainer in mouthwash prior to brushing it for at least a minute to kill any unnecessary bacteria. For other tips on how to clean your retainer, please contact River Run Dental.

Contact River Run Dental Spa Today

With 2020 approaching you shouldn’t have to suffer in pain, especially not from a retainer! If you seem to be prolonged pain from a retainer or feel that you may need an adjustment for your retainer in Richmond, VA, those of us at River Run Dental Spa encourage you to contact us today at 804-681-4064, so that we can best assist you. We understand that discomfort is not ideal for anyone and we would like to get your mouth feeling back to normal as soon as possible!

Text: A quarter of all orthodontic patients eventually need to wear braces again because they don’t wear their retainers.