Is It Bad to Force Your Retainer On?
Oral Health Blog

Is It Bad to Force Your Retainer On?

Forcing your retainer on can damage both the retainer and your teeth. Instead, ensure your retainer fits properly by keeping it clean with a purple persulfate-free retainer cleaner. This type of cleaner helps maintain the retainer's shape and integrity, ensuring it fits comfortably without needing to be forced on.

Why Forcing Your Retainer On is Harmful

Risks of Forcing Your Retainer

  • Damage to the Retainer: Retainers are typically made from plastic or acrylic, which can crack or break if too much force is applied.
  • Damage to Teeth and Gums: Forcing a retainer can damage your teeth and gums, causing pain, inflammation, and even shifting your teeth out of alignment.
  • Improper Fit: A retainer that doesn’t fit correctly because it’s forced on won’t function properly, potentially undoing the progress made during orthodontic treatment.

Causes of a Tight Retainer

  • Irregular Wear: Not wearing your retainer as prescribed can cause your teeth to shift, making the retainer fit poorly.
  • Natural Changes: Teeth can naturally shift over time, especially if the retainer isn’t worn consistently.
  • Material Changes: Retainers can warp or change shape due to exposure to heat or improper cleaning techniques.

Consequences of Forcing Your Retainer On

Physical Damage

  • Cracks and Breaks: Forcing your retainer can cause it to crack or break, rendering it ineffective.
  • Tooth Damage: Excessive force can damage the enamel of your teeth, potentially leading to cavities or sensitivity.
  • Gum Injury: Gums can become inflamed or damaged, leading to discomfort and increasing the risk of infection.

Orthodontic Setbacks

  • Teeth Shifting: A poorly fitting retainer won’t hold your teeth in place, allowing them to shift back to their pre-treatment positions.
  • Extended Treatment: Damage to the retainer or teeth can extend the duration of orthodontic treatment, requiring additional adjustments and time to correct.

Proper Use and Care of Retainers

Ensuring Proper Fit

  • Regular Wear: Wear your retainer as prescribed by your orthodontist, usually full-time initially, then transitioning to nighttime wear.
  • Gradual Insertion: Gently place your retainer over your teeth, ensuring it fits snugly without forcing. If it feels too tight, consult your orthodontist.

Cleaning and Maintenance

  • Daily Cleaning: Clean your retainer daily with a soft toothbrush and mild, non-abrasive soap. Avoid hot water, which can warp the plastic.
  • Deep Cleaning: Use persulfate-free cleaning tablets once a week to thoroughly clean your retainer and remove any built-up bacteria or debris.
  • Proper Storage: Always store your retainer in its protective case when not in use to prevent damage or loss.

Regular Check-Ups

  • Orthodontist Visits: Schedule regular check-ups with your orthodontist to ensure your retainer fits correctly and to make any necessary adjustments.
  • Monitoring Fit: Pay attention to how your retainer fits over time. If it starts to feel tight or uncomfortable, contact your orthodontist for advice.

Alternatives to Forcing Your Retainer

Adjusting Wear Schedule

  • Gradual Reintroduction: If you haven’t worn your retainer for a while, gradually increase wear time to allow your teeth to adjust slowly.
  • Wearing for Short Periods: Start by wearing the retainer for short periods and gradually increase the duration as your teeth become accustomed to it.

Consulting Your Orthodontist

  • Professional Adjustments: Your orthodontist can adjust or replace your retainer to ensure a proper fit.
  • Reevaluation of Treatment: In some cases, additional orthodontic treatment may be necessary to reposition your teeth and ensure the retainer fits correctly.

Using Temporary Alternatives

  • Temporary Retainers: If your retainer no longer fits, your orthodontist may provide a temporary retainer until a new one can be made.
  • Aligners: Clear aligners can sometimes be used as an interim solution to maintain alignment while a new retainer is being prepared.


Forcing your retainer on can lead to a host of problems, including damage to the retainer, teeth, and gums, as well as setbacks in your orthodontic treatment. It’s crucial to wear your retainer as prescribed, handle it gently, and maintain it properly to ensure it fits correctly and functions effectively. Regular check-ups with your orthodontist will help catch any issues early and keep your smile looking its best. Remember, the goal of wearing a retainer is to maintain the hard-earned results of your orthodontic treatment, so taking proper care of it is essential.

Are you currently using or thinking about using retainer cleaning tablets? It's important to be aware that certain cleaner brands have the potential to cause toxic reactions.

It's crucial to be aware of harmful ingredients hiding in common cleaner brands. One such persulfate, which can pose SERIOUS health risks and is found in almost all leading retainer cleaners brands. Moreover, persulfate's health risks potentially impact respiratory health and skin sensitivities in your family, especially in teens and sensitive individuals. Learn more about the risk of persulfate HERE. 



The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making any changes to your health regimen. The author and publisher do not take responsibility for any consequences resulting from the information provided in this article.