Gum RecessionRetainers

Can Plastic Retainers Lead to Gum Recession?

Plastic retainers are a go-to choice for keeping your teeth in place after orthodontic treatment. But there’s been talk about them potentially leading to receding gums.

It’s essential to have a retainer after braces are taken off, and plastic ones are often used because they’re more affordable and easier to manage.

However, worries have arisen about whether plastic retainers can cause gum recession.

In this article, we’ll look at plastic retainers, how they compare to other types, and answer the big question – can plastic retainers cause gum recession?

Understanding Gum Recession

Gum recession, or gingival recession, is when the gum tissue around your teeth wears away or pulls back, revealing more of your teeth or roots.

If not taken care of, this can lead to many dental problems, tooth sensitivity, increased risk of decay, and even tooth loss.

Poor oral hygiene is one of the leading causes since it lets bacteria and plaque buildup and damage the gums.

Brushing too hard can also lead to gum recession, as it can wear away the enamel and irritate the gums.

Gingivitis and periodontitis can also be the cause, and even genetics can play a part if you’re born with weak gums that are more vulnerable.

According to the CDC, around 50% of adults aged 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease, up to 70% in adults over 65.

The Role of Retainers

Custom-made orthodontic appliances, called retainers, keep teeth from returning to their original alignment after braces.

This is because teeth tend to return to their original position – known as relapse – and retainers help prevent that.

Retainers can be made from plastic, metal, or clear ones (also known as Essix retainers), which are the most popular because they’re comfortable and almost invisible.

You can take them off for eating and cleaning, so they’re convenient.

Plastic Retainers and Gum Recession

There is a common misconception that plastic retainers can cause gum recession. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

The belief likely stems from that any foreign object in the mouth, including retainers, can irritate if not correctly cared for.

However, this does not mean that the retainer is causing the gums to recede.

Gum recession is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene, aggressive brushing, and gum disease.

It is important to note that wearing any retainer requires proper oral hygiene practices to prevent gum recession and other dental issues.

This includes regular brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental check-ups.

Proper Retainer Care

To ensure the health of your gums and prevent gum recession, following proper retainer care guidelines is essential. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Clean your retainer daily: Like your teeth, retainers can accumulate bacteria and plaque. It’s essential to clean your retainer daily using a soft toothbrush and mild soap or a retainer cleaning solution. Avoid using hot water, as it can warp the plastic and affect the fit of the retainer.
  2. Brush and floss your teeth regularly: Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for preventing gum recession. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss daily to remove plaque and bacteria contributing to gum disease. Consider using fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your teeth and protect against decay.
  3. Avoid aggressive brushing: Brushing your teeth too hard can damage the gum tissue and contribute to gum recession. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle, circular motions to clean your teeth and gums. It’s not about the force you use but the consistency and technique of your brushing.
  4. Remove your retainer when eating: Eating with your retainer on can trap food particles and increase the risk of gum disease. Permanently remove your retainer before eating and store it in a clean case. After eating, brush your teeth before putting your retainer back in to prevent the buildup of food particles and bacteria.
  5. Visit your dentist regularly: Regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining good oral health. Your dentist can assess the health of your gums and guide retainer care. They can also spot signs of gum recession and other dental issues, allowing for early intervention and treatment.


In conclusion, plastic retainers do not directly cause gum recession. Gum recession is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene, aggressive brushing, and gum disease.

However, following proper retainer care guidelines is vital to prevent gum recession and other dental issues.

Remember to clean your retainer daily, maintain good oral hygiene, avoid aggressive brushing, remove your retainer when eating, and visit your dentist regularly.

By following these steps, you can ensure the health of your gums and maintain the alignment of your teeth with the help of your retainer.

In the end, it’s all about maintaining a balance. Retainers are a necessary tool for preserving the alignment of your teeth after braces, but they require proper care and attention.

With the correct practices, you can enjoy the benefits of a straight smile without worrying about gum recession.

Can receding gums grow back?

If you’ve got receding gums, they won’t grow back on their own.

Fortunately, treatments are available to help, like gum grafting, where tissue from another area of your mouth covers exposed roots.

It’s important to talk to a dentist or periodontist if you have this issue to find the best way to treat it. Scaling and root planing, using a soft toothbrush, and proper oral hygiene are all helpful.

Plus, you’ll want to address any factors like teeth grinding or misaligned teeth that might be contributing.

Quitting smoking can also help improve gum health. Take time – early detection and treatment are vital for managing gum recession!

Why is my retainer making my gums recede?

Gum recession isn’t caused by wearing a retainer. It’s usually due to inadequate oral hygiene, resulting in gum disease, where bacteria and plaque attack the gums.

An ill-fitting retainer can make it worse or be uncomfortable, but it’s not the direct cause.

Other things that can lead to it are shifting teeth (caused by a bad fit or subpar orthodontic treatment), bruxism (teeth grinding that gets worse when you wear a retainer), and genetics or aging.

To be safe, you should practice good oral hygiene, wear a retainer that fits well, and talk to a dentist to figure out the problem and get the right solutions.

Do people get gum recession naturally over time with aging?

Yes, a Gum recession is common as people age. It happens naturally as gum tissue gradually wears away, exposing more of the tooth, sometimes even the root.

Genetics, oral health, hygiene practices, and smoking habits can influence how fast and extensively this happens.

Regular dental check-ups and good oral hygiene are essential to monitor and manage gum recession as we age.

These check-ups ensure early identification of any issues related to gum recession, enabling timely measures to maintain oral health.

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Dr. Ahtsham

I am a dentist. I am working hard to keep this blog updated for those suffering from tooth pain. It is my goal to make this blog the source for all information regarding tooth pain. Feel free to contact me if you are suffering from toothache.

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