Can I Get My Retainers Tightened?

Is your orthodontic retainer, which used to fit snuggly and securely in your mouth, starting to wobble, feel loose, or just doesn’t fit properly? If this sounds familiar it may be time to schedule an appointment to see the orthodontist, but not for the reasons you think.

Most Retainers Don’t Require Tightening

Most orthodontic retainers are designed to last for several years without requiring tightening. Occasionally, the shape of the retainer may need to be changed to accommodate shifting of your teeth or because of wear and tear from having to wear it so much, but this is more of a repositioning of the retainer and not really a tightening.

What Types of Orthodontic Retainers May Need to be Repositioned or Reshaped?

Orthodontists have several different types of retainers they can recommend for you to wear after you complete your treatment. Some of these retainers have more of a “fixed” shape and can’t be reshaped or repositioned while others can.

The following are examples of the most common types of orthodontic retainers and whether or not they can be reshaped or repositioned:

Clear plastic retainers – these resemble the clear plastic aligner trays that are used with Invisalign treatment. These types of retainers cannot be reshaped or repositioned. If your teeth shift or the retainer is worn down, you will need to have a completely new retainer made in most cases.

Hawley retainers – these retainers combine hard acrylic which fits snuggly to the roof of your mouth with a front bow section which holds your teeth in place. Only very minor adjustments to the shape of these retainers can be made. If your teeth shift too much you will need to have a new retainer made to accommodate the changes in your teeth.

Wrap around retainers – these retainers have a wire that wraps around the teeth and holds them into place. Due to the increased amount of wire, these retainers have the most ability to be shaped. However, if your teeth shift too much a new retainer may need to be made anyway.

Fixed retainer – this type of retainer glues a small wire to the back of your teeth. It can only be removed by your dentist or orthodontist as it is fixed to your teeth. These retainers cannot be tightened. If your teeth shift, the entire wire needs to be removed and a new one will need to be glued back onto your teeth.  

Following Retainer Instructions Limits the Need for Tightening, Reshaping, or New Retainers

A list of instructions will be given to you when you receive your retainer. The instructions will include how often you should wear your retainer, when you should wear it (at bedtime or throughout the day), and when you can stop wearing it.

Following the instructions given to you will not only help keep your teeth in their new position, but it will limit you from having to go to the orthodontist to get the retainer reshaped or tightened or get a completely new one unnecessarily.

If you don’t follow the instructions given your teeth may shift or move too much. When this happens, you may need to wear braces again for a brief period of time in order to push the teeth back into their proper position. To avoid having to wear braces again it is best to regularly wear your retainer.

Having Problems with Your Retainer? Call Reddick Orthodontics

Having problems with your retainer? Call us and schedule an appointment with our orthodontist. Dr. Reddick will be able to determine if your retainer just needs to be reshaped or if you need a new retainer. If you need a new retainer, Dr. Reddick can take the impressions and order a new retainer for you. He can also answer any questions you may have about your retainer.

Call our office today to schedule an appointment to see Dr. Reddick. We look forward to welcoming you to our dental family!


We have missed seeing everyone!  We are finally able to go back to work and look forward to seeing all of our patients and their families.  We are in the process of calling everyone who has missed an appointment during our forced office closure to reschedule and get back on track.  We will be working overtime in the coming months to do what we can to help. Unfortunately, our time out of work will delay treatment completion for many and for that we are truly sorry.  Most importantly, we hope this message finds everyone happy and healthy.

The health and safety of our patients, their families, and the community remain our primary focus.  We are taking as many precautions as possible for prevention of spreading COVID-19.  We will remain vigilant with our sterilization and disinfection protocols and we will  be taking additional precautionary measures as well.   If the patient or an immediate family member has been sick in the past two weeks, we ask that you please call us to reschedule the appointment to a later date as a precaution.

To limit the traffic in our building, we will be adjusting to a “parking lot waiting area”.  We will have a staff member come out to each vehicle to greet you and check the patient in.  Please call the office if you are not promptly greeted.  There are some types of appointments that require a parent’s participation, so we ask that anyone accompanying the patient into the office wear a mask or face covering.  We can provide masks if necessary. 

We will only be utilizing half of our operatories to maintain significant distance between patients.  We ask that all of our patients please thoroughly brush their teeth prior to their appointments to limit use of our toothbrushing area.  We have also installed plexiglass barriers between our front desk and the waiting area.  As always, we will continue to be committed to giving each of our patients the best experience possible!

Thank you for your understanding!

The Reddick Orthodontics Team