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Orthodontics/Essix Retainer Troubles


Last week, I got my braces removed. Today, I got my essix retainers. I can easily remove the bottom retainer with no problem. It's a little sore but I know that will go away eventually. The top retainer is really really hard to get off. I'm always scared if I pull too hard, I'll damage my teeth. Is there any helpful hints you can give me that will help me get my top retainer out easily?

Congratulations on getting your braces off! Wearing your retainer as directed is SO important, but I'm sorry it's giving you trouble. Don't worry - you will not damage your teeth when you take it out, even if it seems to resist. What I've found works is to use the (clean) fingernails of your first fingers to catch the top edge of the retainer, hooking them over the edge of the retainer back toward your molars. Keep your thumbs under the retainer so it won't go flying. Then pull down a bit on the edges, first at one side then the other, kind of rocking the retainer and easing it down with the fingernails until you feel it release from your teeth. (It almost feels like there's suction going on, and you have to get a little air in there first.) This seems to work better than trying to pull both sides at the same time. If this doesn't work, do feel free to call or visit your orthodontist - helping you at this stage is still all part of what you paid for when you signed up to get braces. Maybe an edge of the retainer needs a little reshaping, but try this first. And when you get to the point where they say, just wear it at night, please do, forever! It becomes habit and really is a no-brainer, but otherwise your teeth will move back and get crooked. Check out this forum ( to see that people really regret leaving it off later. Best wishes.


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Pamela Waterman


I can supply tips, hints, recipes and resources about a braces-friendly lifestyle, for parents of children and teens in braces as well as for adults in braces. Although I am not a medical/dental professional, I have colleagues in the field and will do my best to point you to additional resources.


I am the author of two specialty award-winning cookbooks of soft-food recipes and tips targeted to all ages of braces-wearers (including adults) and give workshops to dental hygienists to help them help their patients with this type of information. I have worn braces both as a teen and as an adult, and am from a family of three generations of braces patients. I regularly contribute information to the public website of the American Association of Orthodontists and Orthotown magazine.

Women in Orthodontics, American Academy for Oral Systemic Health, Independent Book Publishers Association, Society of Women Engineers, Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Orthotown, Cricket, Family Fun, Highlights, Better Homes and Gardens Kids' Rooms, Chicago Tribune, East Valley Tribune (Phoenix AZ), Healthy Alternatives, Organic & Natural, Desktop Engineering, Machine Design

BS Astrophysics, MS Radio Astronomy/Electrical Engineering

Awards and Honors
Good Parenting Award from Glyph Award - Best Cookbook, Arizona Book Publishing Association Finalist Glyph Award - Best Cookbook, Arizona Book Publishing Association Finalist - Next Generation Indie Books, Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group

Past/Present Clients
American Association of Orthodontists, Smile for a Lifetime

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