Retainer-Related Jaw Popping: What You Need to Know
Oral Health Blog

Retainer-Related Jaw Popping: What You Need to Know


Retainers are essential dental devices that help maintain the alignment of your teeth after orthodontic treatment. However, some people may experience jaw popping or clicking when wearing their retainers. In this article, we'll explore the connection between retainers and jaw popping and discuss what you can do to address this issue.

1. Understanding Jaw Popping

Jaw popping, also known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) popping, occurs when the joint that connects your jaw to your skull moves in an irregular way. It can manifest as a clicking, popping, or cracking sound when you open or close your mouth.

2. The Role of Retainers

Retainers are primarily designed to maintain the position of your teeth after orthodontic treatment, such as braces. They are typically made of acrylic and metal wires and fit snugly against your teeth.

3. How Retainers Can Cause Jaw Popping

While retainers are not a common cause of jaw popping, they can contribute to the issue in some cases. Here's how:

  • Fit Issues: An improperly fitting retainer can put uneven pressure on your teeth and jaws. This imbalance can strain the TMJ, potentially leading to jaw popping.

  • Stress on the TMJ: When retainers are too tight or exert excessive pressure on your teeth, it can affect the natural movement of your jaw. This stress can lead to TMJ issues, including popping.

4. Identifying Retainer-Related Jaw Popping

If you suspect that your retainer is causing your jaw to pop, pay attention to the following signs:

  • Audible Popping Sounds: Listen for clicking or popping sounds when you open and close your mouth while wearing your retainer.

  • Discomfort or Pain: Jaw popping may be accompanied by discomfort or mild pain in the jaw joint or nearby areas.

  • Changes in Retainer Fit: If your retainer suddenly feels tighter or different, it might be a sign that it's affecting your jaw.

5. What to Do If You Experience Jaw Popping

If you believe your retainer is causing jaw popping, here are some steps to consider:

  • Consult Your Orthodontist: Reach out to your orthodontist to discuss your concerns. They can examine your retainer, assess your bite, and make necessary adjustments.

  • Review Your Retainer's Fit: Your orthodontist may examine your retainer's fit to ensure it's snug but not too tight. If the fit is off, adjustments can be made.

  • Follow Care Instructions: Proper retainer care is crucial. Make sure to clean your retainer regularly to prevent any complications.

6. Precautions for Preventing Jaw Popping

To reduce the risk of retainer-related jaw popping:

  • Stick to the Wearing Schedule: Follow your orthodontist's instructions regarding how often you should wear your retainer.

  • Report Any Changes: If you notice any changes in how your retainer fits or any discomfort, contact your orthodontist promptly.

  • Regular Check-Ups: Attend your orthodontic check-ups as recommended to ensure the retainer is working as intended.


Retainers are valuable tools for maintaining a straight smile, but in rare cases, they may contribute to jaw popping. If you suspect your retainer is causing this issue, don't hesitate to consult your orthodontist. They can make the necessary adjustments to ensure your retainer fits properly and doesn't affect your jaw's health. Proper communication and professional guidance will help you achieve both a beautiful smile and optimal jaw function.

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.