Why Post-Braces Discomfort Can Surprise You?
Oral Health Blog

Why Post-Braces Discomfort Can Surprise You?


Orthodontic treatment, whether with braces or retainers, aims to give you a beautifully aligned smile. However, many people wonder why retainers, which are typically worn after braces, can sometimes hurt even more than the braces themselves. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon and provide insights into managing and understanding retainer-related discomfort.

1. Retainers Are Continuous

One key difference between braces and retainers is their duration of wear. Braces are typically worn for an extended period, usually several months to a few years. In contrast, retainers are often worn continuously, even for years after braces are removed. This prolonged wear can lead to discomfort that might be more noticeable than the occasional adjustments of braces.

2. Retainer Tightness

Orthodontists often make retainers tight to ensure they effectively maintain the alignment of your teeth. This tightness can create pressure points and result in initial discomfort as your teeth adapt to the retainer's grip.

3. Initial Adjustment

After having braces removed, your teeth need to settle into their new positions. Initially, your teeth might be more sensitive, and the presence of a retainer can exacerbate this sensation. It may feel like the retainer is causing the discomfort, but it's often related to the teeth's adjustment process.

4. Speech Challenges

Retainers, especially fixed ones like permanent retainers, can cause speech impediments. Learning to speak clearly with a retainer can be challenging, leading to frustration and potential discomfort.

5. Sensitivity and Irritation

The materials used in retainers, particularly fixed ones, may come into contact with your gums, tongue, or cheeks. This contact can lead to irritation, especially if the retainer is rough or ill-fitting.

6. Psychological Factors

Sometimes, the anticipation of discomfort or the anxiety related to wearing a retainer can make it seem more uncomfortable than it actually is. The psychological aspect of discomfort should not be underestimated.

Managing Retainer Discomfort

While retainer discomfort can be more noticeable initially, several strategies can help you manage it:

  • Follow Orthodontist's Instructions: Adhering to your orthodontist's recommendations for retainer wear and adjustments is crucial.
  • Use Orthodontic Wax: Applying wax to any rough or irritating areas of the retainer can help create a smoother surface.
  • Practice Speaking: Engaging in speech exercises can help you adapt to speaking with a retainer more comfortably.
  • Good Oral Hygiene: Maintaining excellent oral hygiene can reduce irritation and discomfort associated with fixed retainers.


The discomfort associated with retainers, especially when compared to braces, can be attributed to factors like prolonged wear, tightness, and the initial adjustment period. It's important to remember that this discomfort is often temporary and should not deter you from maintaining the beautiful smile achieved through orthodontic treatment. By following your orthodontist's guidance and employing some practical strategies, you can ease the transition into comfortable retainer wear.

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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.