Should I Wear My Retainer If It Hurts? The Definitive Guide

Hey there friends! Let’s get real for a moment – do you ever find yourself asking, “Should I wear my retainer if it hurts?” As someone who used to wear braces and a retainer myself, I can totally empathize with the struggle. It can be tempting to toss your retainer aside when it’s causing discomfort, but let’s not forget the reason we started wearing a retainer in the first place!

The good news is, you’re not alone. Many individuals have been in your shoes and have faced the same dilemma. However, the answer to the question isn’t always black and white. There are a variety of factors that come into play when deciding if you should continue to wear your retainer or let it rest for a bit. From the type of retainer you have to the intensity of the pain you’re experiencing, there are plenty of things to consider before making your decision.

So, what’s the bottom line? Well, the choice is ultimately up to you, but it’s important to keep in mind the purpose of your retainer, the long-term effects of not wearing it, and the potential solutions to alleviate the pain. Trust me, I know it’s not always easy, but the end result will be worth it. So, take a deep breath, weigh your options, and make the decision that’s best for you and your teeth!

Importance of wearing a retainer

Wearing a retainer is an essential post-orthodontic treatment. It ensures that your teeth remain straight, and your bite remains stable after your braces or Invisalign treatment. However, wearing a retainer can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, painful. So the question is, should you wear your retainer if it hurts?

  • The answer is yes. Even if your retainer is causing discomfort, you should still wear it as prescribed by your orthodontist.
  • The reason for this is that your teeth are not entirely stable after orthodontic treatment, and they may shift back to their original position if you don’t wear your retainer.
  • Wearing a retainer as prescribed by your orthodontist can prevent the need for further treatment in the future.

It’s also essential to remember that the pain or discomfort you’re feeling is temporary. Your mouth needs time to adjust to your retainer, and the discomfort should subside within a few days to a week.

Signs of when a retainer needs adjustment

Wearing a retainer can be uncomfortable at times, and some people experience discomfort when they first start using one. However, persistent pain or discomfort may indicate that your retainer needs adjusting. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • The retainer feels too tight or too loose
  • The retainer causes pain or discomfort when you wear it
  • The retainer has visible damage or signs of wear and tear

If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to visit your orthodontist as soon as possible. Your orthodontist will be able to assess your retainer and make any necessary adjustments or repairs to ensure that it’s working correctly to keep your teeth straight.

It’s also important to note that sometimes, discomfort or pain when wearing a retainer can be completely normal and may be due to factors such as soreness or sensitivity in the teeth and gums. However, if the pain doesn’t go away after a few days or is persistent, it’s best to seek professional advice.

Adjusting a Retainer

There are a few different ways that your orthodontist may adjust your retainer, depending on the specific issue or concern. Here are some common methods:

  • Tighten or loosen the retainer: If your retainer is too tight or too loose, your orthodontist can adjust it to ensure a comfortable fit.
  • Reshape the retainer: Sometimes, a retainer may need to be reshaped slightly to better fit the contours of your teeth and gums.
  • Repair any damage: If your retainer has any visible damage, such as cracks or breaks, your orthodontist can repair it to ensure it continues to function effectively.

How Often Should You Get Your Retainer Adjusted?

The frequency of adjustments to your retainer may depend on a few different factors, including the type of retainer you have and your individual needs and preferences. In general, it’s a good idea to visit your orthodontist for a retainer check-up every six months to ensure that everything looks good and is functioning correctly. However, if you notice any of the signs mentioned above, it’s best to visit your orthodontist sooner rather than later.

Retainer Type Adjustment Frequency
Hawley Retainer Every six months
Clear Aligner Retainer As directed by your orthodontist
Fixed Retainer As directed by your orthodontist

Ultimately, it’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to any discomfort or pain you may experience when wearing a retainer. If you notice any signs that your retainer needs adjusting, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your orthodontist to ensure that everything is in order.

Common Reasons Why a Retainer Hurts

Wearing a retainer can be uncomfortable, especially if it hurts. There are various reasons why a retainer can cause pain or discomfort. Here are some common reasons why:

  • New Retainer: When you first get your retainer, it may cause discomfort as your teeth adjust to their new positions. This should subside in a few days to a week.
  • Tightness: If your retainer feels tight or applies too much pressure, it could be a sign that your teeth have shifted out of place. This can happen if you haven’t worn your retainer consistently or if you’ve missed a few scheduled adjustments.
  • Damage: If your retainer is damaged or bent, it can cause pain or discomfort. Inspect your retainer regularly and talk to your orthodontist if you notice any damage or signs of wear and tear.

If you experience discomfort or pain from your retainer, don’t ignore it. It’s best to talk to your orthodontist to identify the cause and determine the best course of action.

It’s essential to wear your retainer consistently as instructed. Failing to do so could undo months or years of treatment. Here are some tips to help you wear your retainer comfortably:

  • Wear your retainer as instructed by your orthodontist.
  • Don’t skip your scheduled retainer adjustments.
  • Keep your retainer clean and free of damage.
  • If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, talk to your orthodontist about adjusting your retainer or exploring other options.

Types of Retainers

There are several types of retainers, and each may cause different levels of discomfort:

Type Description Pros Cons
Hawley Retainer A plastic and metal retainer that fits over your teeth. Durable and customizable. Bulky and may interfere with speech.
Clear Retainer A clear plastic retainer that fits over your teeth. Invisible and comfortable to wear. Limited durability and may need frequent replacement.
Fixed Retainer A wire that is bonded to the back of your teeth. No need to remove and can provide long-term stability. May cause discomfort and difficulty flossing and cleaning teeth.
Essix Retainer A clear, thin plastic retainer that fits over your teeth. Comfortable and nearly invisible. Less durable than other retainers and may need frequent replacement.

Talk to your orthodontist about the different types of retainers and which one is right for you based on your orthodontic needs and comfort level.

How long to wear a retainer for optimal results

If you are wondering about how long to wear a retainer for optimal results, the answer depends on the type of retainer you have. Generally, retainers are necessary after the completion of orthodontic treatment to keep your teeth from shifting back to their original positions. By wearing a retainer, you can maintain the alignment of your teeth and ensure that your orthodontic treatment is long-lasting.

  • For removable retainers: If you have a removable retainer, you should wear it for at least 22 hours a day for the first three to six months after completing your orthodontic treatment. This is because your teeth are still settling into their new positions and are more likely to shift during this time. After the initial period, you can wear your retainer for about 12 hours a day, preferably at night.
  • For permanent retainers: If you have a permanent or bonded retainer, your orthodontist will recommend that you wear it indefinitely. This is because the bonded wire will maintain the alignment of your teeth without interfering with your daily activities. However, you will need to clean your permanent retainer regularly to prevent plaque buildup and to keep your teeth healthy.
  • For clear retainers: Clear retainers, also known as Essix retainers, should be worn for at least 22 hours a day for the first three to six months after completing orthodontic treatment. Once your teeth are stable, you can switch to wearing the clear retainers for 12 hours a day, usually at night. Clear retainers need to be cleaned regularly to prevent discoloration and maintain their shape.

It is important to wear your retainer as instructed by your orthodontist to ensure lasting results. If you experience any discomfort or pain while wearing your retainer, speak with your orthodontist to adjust the fit or to explore alternative treatment options.

Type of Retainer Initial Wear Time Recommended Wear Time
Removable Retainers 22 hours/day for 3-6 months 12 hours/day after initial period
Permanent/Bonded Retainers Worn indefinitely N/A
Clear/Essix Retainers 22 hours/day for 3-6 months 12 hours/day after initial period

In summary, the duration of retainer wear for optimal results varies depending on the type of retainer you have. By following the recommendations of your orthodontist, you can maintain the alignment of your teeth and ensure a healthy, long-lasting smile.

Proper Care and Maintenance of a Retainer

Retainers are an essential part of orthodontic treatment as they help maintain the alignment of teeth and prevent them from shifting back into their original position. However, if your retainer hurts, you may be wondering if you should continue wearing it. Before making any decisions, it’s important to understand why your retainer is causing discomfort.

There are several reasons why your retainer may be hurting. It could be too tight, too loose, or damaged. Sometimes you may have accidentally bent your retainer, causing it to fit poorly. Regardless of the cause, it’s essential to seek advice from your orthodontist before discontinuing the use of your retainer.

  • Keep your retainer clean by brushing it with a toothbrush and toothpaste, or washing it with soap and water. Be cautious not to use hot water because it can cause your retainer to deform.
  • Avoid using toothpaste that contains abrasive ingredients like baking soda since it can damage the plastic or metal wires of your retainer.
  • Be sure always to use a protective case when you’re not wearing your retainer. You can purchase a retainer case from your orthodontist or a drugstore.

If you are experiencing discomfort while wearing your retainer, there are a few things you can do to ease the pain. You can try removing your retainer for a few hours, taking a pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or using an oral anesthetic like Orajel. However, if the pain persists, you should consult with your orthodontist to resolve the issue.

Do: Don’t:
Brush or wash your retainer regularly Use hot water to clean your retainer
Store your retainer in a protective case Wrap your retainer in a napkin or tissue while eating
Seek advice from your orthodontist if your retainer is causing discomfort Continue to wear a damaged or ill-fitting retainer

Overall, proper care and maintenance of your retainer can help to prevent discomfort and ensure the longevity of your orthodontic treatment. By following the tips above and consulting with your orthodontist regularly, you can maintain a healthy smile for years to come.

What to do if a retainer is lost or damaged

Retainers are essential for maintaining the alignment of teeth after orthodontic treatment. However, they can get lost or damaged, which can be frustrating and potentially expensive. Here’s what to do if your retainer is lost or damaged:

  • Don’t panic: Losing or damaging your retainer may feel like a big deal, but it’s important to remain calm. It’s possible to get a replacement, so don’t stress too much.
  • Contact your orthodontist: The first thing you should do is get in touch with your orthodontist. They can advise you on the best course of action and give you further instructions. It’s important to make an appointment to visit your orthodontist as soon as possible in these situations.
  • Consider purchasing a spare: If you often misplace or damage your retainer, it might be worth buying a spare. This could save you the stress and cost of replacing them regularly.

If your retainer is damaged, there are different types of damage that could happen to them. Some are minor and can be fixed while others require replacement. Here are some common types of damage:

  • Cracks: Minor cracks on your retainer can be repaired by your orthodontist. However, if the damage is extensive, a replacement retainer may be needed.
  • Warped retainers: If your retainer is warped or distorted, it may no longer fit your teeth correctly. A new retainer may be needed to ensure it does its job correctly.
  • The wire is loose: If the wire on your retainer becomes loose or detached, it may no longer fit correctly. In this case, a new retainer will be needed.

If you need a replacement retainer, the cost will depend on the type of retainer and where you live. Be sure to have a frank conversation with your orthodontist and your health insurance provider to be aware of any potential charges before making any final decision to replace.

Type of Retainer Cost Estimate
Hawley Retainer $150-350
Essix Retainer $100-300
Clear Aligner Retainer $500-2000

No one wants to lose or damage their retainer, but it’s important to remember that it’s not the end of the world. Seek advice from your orthodontist as soon as possible, and consider purchasing a spare retainer to avoid future mishaps.

Alternatives to Traditional Retainers

If wearing your retainer hurts, you may be looking for alternative options to keep your teeth straight. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Clear Aligners: Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, are becoming a popular alternative to traditional braces and retainers. These aligners are clear and removable, making them a discreet option for those who don’t want to wear visible braces or retainers. However, keep in mind that clear aligners may not be suitable for everyone and require strict adherence to a treatment plan.
  • Lingual Braces: Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces, but they are attached to the back of the teeth instead of the front. This means they are less visible than traditional braces, but they can be more difficult to clean and may cause some discomfort.
  • Fixed Retainers: Fixed retainers are cemented to the back of your teeth and are designed to hold your teeth in place. Unlike removable retainers, fixed retainers do not require daily maintenance, but they can be difficult to clean and may cause some discomfort.

It’s important to remember that every option has its pros and cons, and what works best for you may depend on your specific dental needs and personal preferences. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist to determine which option is right for you.

Should I Wear My Retainer if it Hurts? FAQs

1. Why does my retainer hurt? Your retainer may hurt because of your teeth’s movement. If you haven’t worn it for a while, your teeth may have shifted, and your retainer is adjusting to that shift.
2. Is it normal for my retainer to hurt? A little bit of discomfort is normal, especially if you haven’t worn your retainer for a while. However, if the pain is severe, you should consult your orthodontist.
3. How long will my retainer hurt? Your retainer should only hurt for a few days. If the pain persists, you should consult your orthodontist.
4. Can I take a painkiller to ease the pain? You can take an over-the-counter painkiller, but you should follow the dosage instructions. Do not exceed the recommended dosage.
5. What should I do if my retainer hurts too much? If the pain is unbearable, you should stop wearing your retainer and contact your orthodontist.
6. Will not wearing my retainer cause my teeth to shift back? Yes, if you don’t wear your retainer, your teeth will shift back, and your orthodontic treatment will be undone.
7. How can I get used to wearing my retainer? It takes time for you to get used to wearing your retainer. Start by wearing it for a few hours a day and gradually increase the time as you get used to it.


Thanks for reading our FAQs about wearing retainers. It’s normal to feel a little discomfort when you first start wearing your retainer or if you haven’t worn it for a while. However, if the pain is severe or persists for longer than a few days, you should consult your orthodontist. Remember, wearing your retainer is crucial to maintaining the results of your orthodontic treatment, so keep wearing it as instructed, even if it’s a little uncomfortable. Don’t forget to visit us again later for more tips and information about dental health.