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When Can I Wear My Retainer After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

The removal of the wisdom teeth is a common practice for many people who suffer from impaction or overcrowding. The experience can be a rather intimidating and uncomfortable one as the the post-procedure recovery can take up to weeks. After the procedure, many are eager to return to their regular routine and habits.

As you navigate the path to a healthier, happier smile, one question might be looming large for those who wear retainers: when can I resume the wearing of my retainer after the wisdom teeth removal surgery?

In general, you should wait for at least 24 to 48 hours for the swelling to subside and the wounds to heal sufficiently before you can start wearing your retainers. During the initial recovery period, it is important that you avoid any activities that can disrupt the healing process, and this includes the wearing of a retainer.

In the rest of the article, we will take a deep dive in this question, providing insights from dental professionals to understand when you might expect to comfortably wear your retainer again. Remember, though, everyone’s journey is unique, and while we offer general guidance, it’s crucial to consult with your own dental care professional for personalized advice.

How Do Retainers Work?

Retainers are a custom-made orthodontic device designed to help maintain the position and alignment of your teeth after the end of an orthodontic treatment.

After the removal of your braces, the teeth have a natural tendency to shift back to its original position due to the forces of the gums, and jaw muscles; this phenomenon is better known as a relapse. The retainer stabilizes the teeth in their desired position by acting as a counteract force in the opposite direction of teeth’s natural movement.

Retainers play a crucial role in maintaining the results of orthodontic treatment and ensuring long-term stability of your smile.

Hawley Retainers | Source: Swapp Orthodontics

There are two types of retainers: removable and fixed.

  • Removable retainers: These retainers can be taken out when eating, brushing, or during other specific activities. They are usually made of a clear plastic material (like Essix retainers) or a combination of acrylic and wire (Hawley retainers). Removable retainers are easy to clean and generally more aesthetically pleasing due to their inconspicuous appearance.
  • Fixed retainers: Also known as bonded or permanent retainers, these retainers are attached to the backside of the teeth using a thin wire, making them virtually invisible to others. Fixed retainers are permanently bonded to the teeth, meaning they cannot be removed by the patient. They offer continuous support and are especially effective at preventing relapse in cases where teeth are prone to shifting. As such, they are commonly applied when the orthodontist or dentist believes that the teeth will shift if only a removable retainer is used.

The duration and frequency of retainer wear vary depending on the individual and the orthodontic treatment. Some people may need to wear retainers full-time initially, while others might only need to wear them at night. Your orthodontist will provide specific instructions on retainer wear to ensure the best possible long-term results for your smile.

When Can I Wear My Retainers After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

As mentioned, you should wait for at least 1 to 2 days after the surgery before attempting to wear your retainers again.

During the first 24 hours after the surgery, you should not wear your retainers as your gum will be sensitive and swollen. It is best that you avoid causing any unnecessary irritation to the wound.

The retainer, which is meant to form a tight fit around your teeth and gums, exerts a pressure that can irritate the surgical site and cause pain. If the pressure is applied excessively or for extended period, it could lead to dehiscence, a rupture of the wound. When this happens, it can lead to medical complications such as dry socket or even an infection.

Permanent (Bonded) Retainer | Source: Premier Dental of Ohio

After the first day, you can start by trying to fit your retainer in gently. If it causes discomfort or pain, it’s best to wait a bit longer. Meanwhile, you can apply a cold compress on the swollen area of the gum to reduce the pain and swelling.

That said, if your retainer do not extend beyond your second molars, you should be able to wear your retainers within the first 24 hours as they are unlikely to irritate or delay the healing of the wound. Always consult your orthodontist or oral surgeron as they are able to provide a personalized advice based on the recovery of your wound as well as your dentition.

Is It Fine to Go One Week Without Retainers?

When you go on for an extended period without your retainers on, you may suffer from orthodontic relapse, a case where the teeth have shifted from its ideal position after the completion of the orthodontic treatment. To ensure continued success of your orthodontic treatment, you need to wear your retainers regularly to keep the teeth from shifting. This rule applies even after the removal of your wisdom teeth surgery as your teeth can shift quickly in the absence of a retainer.

That said, it really depends on how long ago have your orthodontic treatment ended, and how your teeth have responded to the treatment.

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If you’ve recently had your braces removed, going a week without wearing your retainer is not recommended as your teeth may begin to shift back toward their original positions. However, if you’ve been out of braces for a few years and have been consistently wearing your retainer as instructed, missing a week might not have a significant impact.

As a rule of thumb, you should not go for more than 10 days without your retainers. You may feel some tightness and pain as it has been a while since you wore the retainers and your teeth may have shifted. However, the discomfort should go away in under a day as the teeth move back to fit snugly in the retainer. If the retainers do not fit, please do not force the retainers in as you can exert excessive pressure and injure the delicate gum tissue.

If possible, visit your dentist or orthodontist when trying to fit your retainers in for the first time after your wisdom teeth removal surgery. They are able to assist you in the fitting of the retainers and provide advice on whether it is time to replace it with a new set.

Is It Fine to Go Two Weeks or More Without Retainers?

While some people might not see significant teeth movement after two weeks without retainers, it’s generally not advised to go that long without wearing them, especially if you are in the initial phase of retention after having braces removed.

If you have gone two weeks or more without wearing your retainer, it is important to try it on to see if it still fits. If the retainer feels overly tight or doesn’t fit properly, that’s a sign that your teeth have likely started to shift. In such a case, you should contact your orthodontist as soon as possible.

In most cases, the only solution to an orthodontic relapse is to go through another round of orthodontic treatment.

As far as possible, you should resume the wearing of your retainers within a week after your wisdom teeth removal surgery. By then, your surgical wound should have healed sufficiently for you to be able to wear them without any significant pain.

Will My Retainer Still Fit After Wisdom Tooth Removal?

The answer is yes, your retainers will still fit even after your wisdom teeth was removed. Most retainers, be it fixed or removable, are custom designed to fit your teeth for a perfect smile. When your wisdom teeth are removed, they do not impact the position or alignment of the teeth. As such your retainers will continue to fit nicely on your teeth.

If you are using a Hawley retainer, you may be required to undergo a quick adjustment to realign the retainer. In any case, it is unlikely that you need to replace your existing retainers with a new one after the removal of your wisdom teeth.

In any case, if you have doubts about the fit of your retainer following your wisdom tooth extraction, consult your orthodontist prior to the dental procedure. They can provide you with more information regarding what to anticipate and ensure that you have the appropriate retainer for your recovery after the extraction.


As we’ve explored in this post, the key to wearing your retainer after wisdom teeth extraction is understanding the healing process of your body.

In most cases, you can expect to start wearing your retainer within the first 24 to 48 hours after wisdom teeth removal. However, it’s crucial to remember that each individual’s healing process is unique. Always follow the advice and recommendations given by your dental professional and pay attention to how your mouth feels during the healing process.

With patience, attention to the healing process, and the guidance of your dental care professionals, you can continue to maintain your beautifully aligned smile, even after your wisdom teeth have bid farewell.

Erinwood Brady

Brady Erinwood is an accomplished dentist operating in New York City. Renowned for his proficient use of state-of-the-art dental technologies, Dr. Erinwood offers both general and cosmetic dental services and is widely lauded for both his dental makeovers as well as his to enhancing the oral health of his community.