Retainers are a critical part of your orthodontic treatment. If your retainer was fitting well the day you received it from your orthodontist and now does not feel like it is fitting properly, it is important to determine why that may be.
If a retainer was fitting well at the initial placement and now feels tight and is causing you pain, it is generally one of two problems. The retainer has either been deformed in some way or the teeth have moved. A retainer should not deform or change shape with normal use, but there are ways that a retainer can be damaged and deformed other than your dog chewing it up or accidentally stepping on it. Here in Arizona, I have seen retainers left in a hot car in the brutal summer heat become slightly warped. Cleaning a retainer in extremely hot water (boiling or close to it) can also have a similar effect.
When a retainer feels tight and makes your teeth sore, most of the time it is because you have not been wearing it enough. Even a slight movement that is hard to visually see with your eyes can be enough to make your retainer feel tight. The easiest solution for this problem is to go back to wearing your retainer full-time for a few days to a few weeks (depending on how much time you have missed wearing it) to get back on track. The teeth will generally mold back to the shape of the retainer and the soreness and tightness will go away. Be careful though – you can reach a “point-of-no-return” in which the teeth have moved so much that the retainer no longer fits and you will have to realign your teeth with braces or Invisalign. If you are having problems with a retainer, please give us a call. We would be happy to help you determine the best path forward.