Many people wear retainers created by a dental professional to ensure their teeth remain straight and impeccable. Often, these retainers are worn overnight while we sleep. To ensure the retainer fulfills its assigned task, it must remain in place.
Moisten the retainer before pushing it firmly into your mouth, as far as it will go.
Wear the retainer every night without fail and occasionally during the day to get your mouth used to the addition. Clear your airways, adjusting your sleeping position to enable nasal breathing if necessary.
If your retainer refuses to stay in place overnight, you may need to consult a dental professional. A new mold, or even a permanently affixed retainer, may be required.
A handful of steps can keep a retainer from falling out overnight, so try these first.
Why Do We Wear Retainers Overnight?
If fitted for a retainer by a dental professional, you’ll be instructed when to wear it. Some people are told to wear their retainers all day and night. It’s more commonplace to be advised to wear a retainer while sleeping, removing it in the morning.
The reason for this is comparatively simple. Most retainers need to be worn consistently for around eight hours to be effective. It’s much easier to achieve this by wearing the mouthpiece overnight when we’re asleep and won’t notice.
It’s common for people to fail to wear their retainer. The Australian Orthodontic Journal explains that this could be down to simple absent-mindedness or discomfort caused by the retainer.
If worn overnight, discomfort shouldn’t be an issue once the retainer molds itself successfully to the mouth. More importantly, the retainer won’t need to be removed to eat, brush your teeth, or do other activities that necessitate an empty mouth.
Can Retainers Fall Out at Night?
If your retainer is falling out when you’re sleeping, the explanation may be pretty simple – the retainer is a poor fit. A professional orthodontist should mold a retainer to your needs, but mistakes can happen. Equally, your teeth may have shifted and changed the fit.
Another explanation for a retainer falling out is that you didn’t affix it properly. A retainer isn’t like a gumshield; it won’t sit loosely over the teeth. It should feel like part of your mouth. If you don’t push the retainer as far as you should, it’ll become loose and slip.
Why Do I Take My Retainer Out in My Sleep?
In theory, retainers should be a perfect fit for your teeth, so your retainer shouldn’t fall out while you’re sleeping. It remains possible, though. Equally, you may remove your retainer overnight in your sleep, even if you do not realize you’re doing so.
You may be pushing your retainer out of position with your teeth. You’ll find your retainer on your pillow or elsewhere in the bed in this instance. Alternatively, you may find the retainer in your hand, suggesting you lifted the retainer out manually.
If you wake up with your retainer out of place, you probably won’t remember why. The removal of the retainer could have been a panicked reaction from your subconscious. If the retainer feels like it is restricting essential airflow, your body will react instinctively. Alternatively, it may simply be due to old-fashioned discomfort.
How to Stop Taking Your Retainer Out in Your Sleep
If you forget to put in your retainer at night, this is a comparatively simple fix. You need to bring the application of your retainer into your sleep hygiene routine.
Set an alarm if necessary, or just keep your retainer somewhere you’ll see it before bed. Beside your toothbrush, for example, or on a bedside table. It will eventually become second nature to wear your retainer at night.
Things are more challenging if you find that your retainer is slipping out of position overnight. You’ll need to discover why this is happening and take the appropriate action.
Let’s review some potential methods for keeping your retainer in place while you sleep:
Maintain a Consistent Schedule
You must stick to the schedule provided by a dental professional when fitted for a retainer.
In 99% of cases, you’ll be expected to wear your retainer every night. If this is the case, don’t skip a night thinking it’ll not do any harm.
The more frequently you fail to wear a retainer, the likelier it is to slip out of position in the future. Without the retainer to hold them in place, your teeth will shift position. This will quickly become problematic if you skip wearing the retainer repeatedly.
You may get away with forgetting to wear your retainer for a single night, especially if you’ve been sporting it consistently for a year or more. One night on/one night off is a recipe for disaster. Keep this up, and your retainer will soon become useless.
Wear the Retainer by Day
Even though most retainers will be provided based on overnight wear, consider occasionally wearing your retainer by day. You can experience issues by not wearing your retainer enough, but it’s rare for a retainer to be worn too much.
The primary purpose of this exercise is to get your mouth used to the retainer. That can be imperative when you’re initially fitted for the mouthpiece. It may feel strange and uncomfortable to wear the retainer. If so, your mouth may instinctively reject it.
Pop in the retainer when you’re passive, just as you would be during sleep. Try it for the hour or so before bed when you’re unwinding, simply reading a book or watching TV, or during a workout where you’ll not be focused on the retainer.
You can’t wear a retainer 24/7, so don’t attempt that. You risk damaging the retainer if you wear it while eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth. Your retainer will also need to be cleaned periodically. The more you wear it, the more natural it’ll feel.
Moisten the Retainer Before Wearing it
If your retainer is bone dry, it’ll become increasingly uncomfortable in your mouth. A dry retainer will also encourage the growth of bacteria within your mouth, leading to plaque and other oral ailments. Enhance comfort by moistening the retainer before use.
Be careful what you use to moisten a retainer. A small amount of cold water is fine – don’t leave the retainer soaking, and don’t apply toothpaste to it. This will potentially damage the wires and rust the metal, shortening the retainer’s lifespan.
You should also regularly sip at plain water when wearing a retainer. This will aid hydration and keep the retainer neat between more intense cleans.
Keep Your Nasal Airways Clear
It takes a lot of effort to get used to a retainer in your mouth, especially when sleeping.
The first few times you wear the retainer, it’ll feel very strange. You may start to panic when nodding off to sleep, worrying that the retainer prevents you from breathing correctly.
Part of this will be due to saliva building in your mouth. Your throat needs to adjust to learning to swallow again without choking. Avoid sleeping on your back when new to wearing a retainer to be on the safe side.
Sleeping on your side also opens the nasal passages, making breathing easier. Even if you’re not aware of it, you’ll feel more comfortable taking up this position. Consider propping yourself up on an extra pillow for even greater breathing opportunities.
Consult an Orthodontist
If you simply cannot keep your retainer in overnight, make an appointment with a dental professional. Explain your issues and ask for advice. An orthodontist may be able to offer some unique suggestions for keeping your retainer in place.
As part of your consultation, ask your orthodontist to review the fit of the retainer. The purpose of the mouthpiece is to keep your teeth in position, but they may have shifted. In such an instance, the retainer is no longer fit for purpose. You’ll need to take a new mold.
If all else fails, you may want to consider having a retainer permanently affixed to your teeth. These retainers, sometimes referred to as “train tracks,” will remain in place until your teeth are permanently repositioned.
Fixed retainers require more maintenance than removable counterparts as they need to be reviewed and tightened periodically. The Journal of Periodontology also connects permanent retainers to receding gums, but the impact is believed to be minimal.
Learning to sleep with retainers in place is an integral part of oral health. If your retainer keeps popping out, you’ll not enjoy the benefits intended from the mouthpiece.