We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Cheek Retractor?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A cheek retractor is a medical instrument used in the practice of dentistry and oral surgery. The cheek retractor is designed to pull the cheeks away from the mouth and hold them in place to leave the mouth exposed during a procedure. These tools are available from many dental supply companies, in a variety of designs and styles to meet various needs. Dentists can also order them directly from manufacturers, which offers an opportunity for custom designs to be ordered.

Like other devices known as “retractors,” cheek retractors are used to pull tissue away to expose an area of interest and to hold the tissue in a retracted position. While an assistant can perform a similar function, using retractors which lock in place can make for a more stable holding position, and can free up space around the surgical field. If an assistant has to hold a manual retractor while the dentist works, space is needed to accommodate the assistant and it can get cramped.

In addition to basic retractors, many companies make cheek and lip retractors, which also pull the lips back. Exposing the surgical field makes it easier to work, and also easier to keep the mouth dry. Retractors are often used when placing epoxies and coatings in or on the teeth so that moisture does not interfere with the procedure, with a quick curing agent being used so that the patient does not spend too much time with a dry mouth.

Cheek retractors commonly come equipped with a tongue blade which can be used to hold the tongue in place. The tongue blade is usually adjustable and removable so that the dentist can get the right fit or remove it if it is in the way or unnecessary for a particular patient. In all cases, the device is either flexible or adjustable so that it can be fitted as comfortably as possible, although even the most carefully adjusted cheek retractor usually causes pain and discomfort.

Autoclavable versions made from steel are available, as are disposable retractors made from plastics. One advantage of a plastic retractor is that people can easily see through and around the retractor, which allows them to identify pinched skin and other signs of discomfort and improper placement. For this reason, many dentists prefer to work with plastic single use products rather than dealing with a cheek retractor that will need to be autoclaved.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon991633 — On Jul 05, 2015

Cheek retractors are also used by orthodontists during the procedure of putting on braces.

By seag47 — On Sep 02, 2011

Cheek retractors make you look and feel so utterly ridiculous that it’s hard not to laugh. When you are being administered laughing gas, it is impossible.

The gas always made me slightly out of my head. I found it hard not to giggle at the dentist and his assistant even during a regular exam. So, when they pried and propped open my lips and cheeks, I could only hold back the laughter for a few seconds.

I remember that they had trouble working on me because of it. I seriously could not stop. They had to stop the gas and switch it to pure oxygen. They waited for me to come down off my high, and then they were able to continue. Somehow, the cheek retractor had become a lot less funny.

By shell4life — On Sep 01, 2011

This article brought back memories that I had blocked out from childhood. My dentist used a cheek retractor on me during a delicate procedure. That was a weird and uncomfortable experience!

He used the disposable kind. I remember trying to resist the urge to twitch or adjust the thing with my hands to a more comfy position. I felt like a horse whose teeth were on display for a potential buyer. I really didn’t feel human. It was kind of degrading.

The procedure seemed to last a lot longer than they said it would. I’m sure that was just because time goes by slowly when your cheeks are retracted.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.