Is It Too Late to Wear a Retainer Again?
Oral Health Blog

Is It Too Late to Wear a Retainer Again?

If you've stopped wearing your retainer and are wondering if it's too late to start again, the good news is it's often not too late. Using a purple persulfate-free retainer cleaner can help ensure your retainer is clean and safe to wear when you start using it again. However, if your teeth have shifted significantly, you may need to consult your orthodontist to see if adjustments or new aligners are necessary.

The Importance of Retainers

Why Retainers Matter

Retainers are custom-made devices designed to hold teeth in their new positions after braces or aligners have done their job. They are essential because:

  • Preventing Relapse: Teeth have a natural tendency to shift back to their original positions, especially in the first few months after orthodontic treatment.
  • Stabilizing Teeth: Retainers help stabilize the bones and tissues around your teeth, ensuring the changes made during orthodontic treatment are permanent.
  • Maintaining Alignment: Wearing a retainer consistently helps maintain the straightness of your teeth, avoiding the need for future orthodontic treatment.

Types of Retainers

There are two main types of retainers:

  1. Removable Retainers: These are made of clear plastic or acrylic and can be taken out for eating and cleaning.
  2. Fixed Retainers: These are bonded to the back of your teeth, providing a permanent solution to maintain alignment.

Consequences of Not Wearing Your Retainer

Short-Term Effects

  • Minor Shifts: Even a few nights without wearing your retainer can cause minor shifts in your teeth, making the retainer feel tighter when you put it back in.
  • Discomfort: If your teeth have moved slightly, wearing your retainer again can be uncomfortable initially.

Long-Term Effects

  • Significant Shifting: Over time, teeth can shift significantly, making it impossible to fit your old retainer.
  • Orthodontic Relapse: In severe cases, teeth can return to their pre-treatment positions, undoing all the progress made during orthodontic treatment.

Is It Too Late to Wear a Retainer Again?

Assessing the Situation

If you've stopped wearing your retainer for a while, the first step is to assess the current position of your teeth. Here are some scenarios:

  • Minor Shifting: If the changes are minor, your old retainer might still fit, although it might feel tight initially.
  • Moderate Shifting: If your teeth have moved more significantly, your old retainer may no longer fit comfortably or at all.
  • Severe Shifting: If your teeth have shifted a lot, wearing your old retainer could cause discomfort or even damage. In this case, consult your orthodontist.

Steps to Take

  1. Try Your Old Retainer: Carefully try to wear your old retainer. If it fits without causing significant discomfort, wear it consistently to prevent further shifting.
  2. Consult Your Orthodontist: If your retainer doesn't fit or causes pain, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist. They can assess the situation and recommend the best course of action.
  3. Consider a New Retainer: In some cases, you may need a new retainer to accommodate the changes in your teeth. Your orthodontist can create a new custom retainer that fits your current dental structure.

Preventing Future Issues

Consistent Retainer Wear

To avoid issues with shifting teeth in the future, it's essential to wear your retainer as prescribed by your orthodontist. Consistent wear is the key to maintaining your straight smile.

Regular Check-Ups

Schedule regular check-ups with your orthodontist to ensure your retainer is still doing its job effectively. They can make any necessary adjustments or replacements.

Proper Retainer Care

Taking good care of your retainer is crucial for its longevity and effectiveness. Here are some tips:

  • Clean Regularly: Clean your retainer daily with a soft toothbrush and mild soap. Avoid using hot water, as it can warp the plastic.
  • Store Properly: Always store your retainer in its case when not in use to prevent loss or damage.
  • Avoid Damage: Keep your retainer away from pets and high temperatures, and handle it with care to avoid breakage.


It's never too late to start wearing your retainer again, but the extent of the delay will determine the necessary steps. If you've experienced minor shifts, wearing your old retainer might be sufficient. However, for more significant changes, consulting your orthodontist is crucial. They can provide professional guidance and possibly a new retainer to ensure your teeth remain in their desired positions. Remember, consistent retainer wear, proper care, and regular orthodontic check-ups are essential for maintaining your beautiful, straight smile. Don't let your investment in orthodontic treatment go to waste; take proactive steps to keep your teeth aligned and healthy.

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.