Oops! What to Expect When You Neglect Your Retainer
Oral Health Blog

Oops! What to Expect When You Neglect Your Retainer


Wearing a retainer is an essential part of maintaining the results of your orthodontic treatment. However, life can get busy, and it's not uncommon for people to forget to wear their retainers as instructed. When this happens, and you eventually decide to put your retainer back in, you may experience discomfort. In this article, we'll explore what happens if you forget to wear your retainer and now it hurts, and discuss possible solutions.

The Consequences of Forgetting Your Retainer

Forgetting to wear your retainer can lead to several issues, including:

1. Tooth Movement

The primary purpose of a retainer is to hold your teeth in their corrected positions after orthodontic treatment. When you neglect to wear it as advised, your teeth may start to shift back toward their original, misaligned positions.

2. Tightness and Discomfort

One common consequence of not wearing your retainer is that your teeth may feel tight and uncomfortable when you try to put it back in. This discomfort occurs because your teeth have moved, and your retainer no longer fits properly.

3. Difficulty Inserting the Retainer

Your retainer may not slide on as easily as it once did due to the changes in tooth alignment. This can make wearing your retainer challenging and painful.

Solutions for Retainer Pain

If you've neglected your retainer and are now experiencing discomfort when trying to wear it, don't panic. There are several steps you can take to address this issue:

1. Gradual Reintroduction

Start by wearing your retainer for shorter periods initially, then gradually increase the duration. This can help your teeth adjust to the retainer more comfortably. Over time, the discomfort should decrease as your teeth adapt to the retainer's fit.

2. Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

If you experience discomfort or soreness when wearing your retainer, consider taking over-the-counter pain relief medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. These can help alleviate pain and inflammation while your teeth adjust.

3. Consult Your Orthodontist

If your retainer pain persists, it's essential to consult your orthodontist. They can assess the situation and make necessary adjustments to your retainer to ensure it fits correctly. In some cases, a new retainer may be required if the changes in your teeth alignment are significant.

Preventing Future Issues

To avoid experiencing discomfort and complications due to forgotten retainers in the future, consider the following preventive measures:

1. Set Reminders

Use alarms or smartphone apps to set daily reminders for wearing your retainer. Consistency is key in maintaining your orthodontic results.

2. Proper Storage

Keep your retainer in a designated retainer case when you're not wearing it. This helps prevent misplacement or damage.

3. Regular Check-Ups

Visit your orthodontist for regular check-ups to ensure your retainer is still effective and your teeth remain in the desired positions.


Forgetting to wear your retainer can lead to discomfort and tooth movement. However, by following a gradual reintroduction process and considering over-the-counter pain relief, you can ease the discomfort. If pain persists, consult your orthodontist for professional guidance and adjustments. To prevent such issues in the future, use reminders, store your retainer properly, and stay on top of your regular check-ups. By doing so, you'll maintain your beautifully aligned smile and ensure the long-term success of your orthodontic treatment.

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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.