It’s very common for removable retainers to break and/or be thrown out accidentally. It takes time and money to organise new retainers but it’s only a fraction of what you spent on braces. If you want to maintain your perfect smile, you should act quickly and organise replacement retainers.
The most common cause of lost retainers is taking them out during a meal and wrapping them in a tissue or paper napkin. When the meal is finished and the table cleared, the tissue or napkin is thrown in the rubbish bin. Retainers are so light that you don’t know that they’re in the scrunched up paper.
Always keep your retainer case with you and as soon as you take your retainers out of your mouth, put them in their case and put the case in a safe place. When you’ve finished eating, wash or rinse your teeth and put the retainers back in your mouth.
If you’re at the stage when you only need to wear retainers at night, get into a routine. When you wake up in the morning, place the retainers in their case and put the case in the same spot in the bathroom every day. The case is small and light so it can easily be caught up with other items and misplaced.
Even if you’re sure your retainers haven’t been thrown out, you don’t have the luxury of looking for them for a few days before requesting a new set. Your teeth can move out of their desired position while you look for your retainers. And when you finally find them, they may not fit your shifted teeth.
To ensure retainers are comfortable to wear and almost impossible to see, retainers are made from very thin plastic. The only downside to their thin appearance is the risk of breaking. Once a retainer is split, it’s useless. A broken retainer can’t provide the support your teeth need to stay in place.
Retainers may also have wire components that may bend or fracture. It is important to return to your orthodontist for review as this may affect their fit and effectiveness.
Always handle your retainers gently, particularly when cleaning. Don’t use hot water to clean retainers as they won’t keep their shape to fit your teeth.
Never eat or drink anything other than water with your retainers in your mouth as you may break or permanently stain them.
Pets are another major cause of broken retainers. Some dogs love the smell of retainers and if they can reach them, they will chew them up in minutes. It’s believed that dogs are attracted to the materials used in retainers plus the smell of saliva on them.
When you’re not wearing your retainers, put them straight in their case and put the case in a spot that your dog can’t get to such as a drawer or high bench rather than on top of your bedside table.
What to Do if You’ve Lost or Broken a Retainer
Don’t delay in contacting your orthodontist if you can’t find your retainer or it’s broken. We’ll order new retainers straight away but they take time to be made, delivered and collected. The longer you’re not wearing retainers, the more likely it is your teeth will shift.
How long it has been since your braces were removed or Invisalign treatment finished will determine how quickly teeth move. If it has only been weeks or months, your teeth may move faster than if you finished treatment years ago. But some people are more susceptible than others, so it pays to not delay.
No matter how difficult the conversation may be, tell your parents that you can’t find your retainer or it’s broken! Your parents will probably help you look for it or organise a new retainer with your orthodontist. They will be far more disappointed to find you haven’t been wearing your retainer and now your teeth have moved after all the time and money invested in your treatment.
Cost of Replacement Retainers
Unfortunately, retainers aren’t cheap whether they’re new or a replacement. There are several factors involved in the price of retainers, so it’s difficult to estimate a cost, but it can be a few hundred dollars so always treat them with care.
What to Expect at Your Retainer Replacement Appointment
When you come in to collect your new retainers, your orthodontist will usually like to see you quickly to check your retainer fits properly and is comfortable to wear. If your teeth have moved significantly, the retainer may not fit. Slight movement of teeth can often be rectified by wearing the retainer for longer than you did previously to encourage teeth to move back into position.
Protection Against Lost or Broken Retainers
Have you lost or broken your retainers more often than you’d like? There are options to ensure you’re never without a retainer.
Back-up Set of Retainers
While most people only need one set of retainers, others prefer to have a back-up so they don’t need to stress if they lose or break one. Some people move between houses regularly so they have a set for each house and don’t need to pack them every time. Whatever your reason for needing more than one retainer, speak to your orthodontist about ordering.
If you’re finding removable retainers a hassle, there’s another option. Speak to your orthodontist about a fixed retainer for your bottom arch, top arch or both. With a fixed retainer, there’s no need to worry about losing it. While it’s possible to break a fixed retainer, it’s more durable than the thin plastic used in removable retainers. It doesn’t take long to get used to having a fixed retainer and is practically invisible because it’s worn on the inside of your teeth.
On the other hand these fixed retainers can bend by eating some hard foods and they do make flossing more challenging. Please discuss the details of losing fixed retainers with your orthodontists and their staff before leaving the office so you have clear directions for how to navigate the toothbrush, floss or interdental brushes around these wires.
Contact Your Orthodontist
If you have any concerns about your retainers, don’t delay in contacting your orthodontist. Whether you need a new retainer made or your existing retainer isn’t comfortable to wear, contact us online and we’ll organise a consultation to come in.