What to Do If You’ve Lost or Broken Your Retainer

Posted On: November 4, 2019

With over 4 million people in the US receiving orthodontic treatment every year, it’s no wonder that losing or breaking a retainer is so common. Retainers serve a very important role in maintaining the position of your teeth after completing orthodontic treatment. Although some very slight shifting or relapse of individual teeth is normal, wearing a retainer as prescribed by your orthodontist is essential to keep your teeth as straight as possible. This can cause many people to panic when they lose or break a retainer, but don’t worry, there’s a simple solution. We’ll share some helpful information so you’ll know what to do if you’ve lost or broken your retainer and how to prevent this from happening.   

Steps to Take if You’ve Lost or Broken Your Retainer

Until you’ve lost or broken your retainer, you may not realize how important it is to replace it quickly. Here are some simple steps to follow if you’ve lost or broken your retainer along with a few helpful tips:

  • Grab your back up retainer if you have one and start wearing it ASAP-that’s what it’s for! 
  • Call our office to set up an appointment to get a new backup retainer made! It’s important to always have a backup retainer on hand in case you lose or break one. 
  • If your retainer is broken, don’t try to wear it until you’ve had it inspected by your orthodontist.
  • Pay attention to your bite so you can address any changes you’ve noticed at your replacement appointment.
  • Be sure to consult your orthodontist on instructions for when and how long to wear your new retainer. 

How Long Can You Go Without Wearing Your Retainer?

At Fry Orthodontics, we believe that consistency is the KEY when following the proper instructions for wearing your retainer. Consistently wearing your retainer at bedtime is the only true way to guarantee that the smile you’ve invested in will last a lifetime. Even two nights of not wearing your retainer can cause a shift in your teeth. This is why it’s important to understand what to do if you’ve lost or broken your retainer, and why replacing it quickly is so critical! If you’ve lost or broken your retainer and have gone more than 1-3 nights without wearing it, your teeth or bite may moderately begin to relapse. Getting a new retainer made as soon as possible will prevent your teeth from shifting out of alignment even more.

There are a couple of indicators that teeth have shifted out of alignment:

  1. Your retainer won’t sit fully over all your teeth anymore, resulting in the retainer only fitting halfway.
  2. Your retainer may feel way too tight to wear comfortably while sleeping. 

What if you’ve lost your retainer and happen to find it? Many people lose their retainer, then find it weeks later and try to wear it again only to find that it doesn’t fit the same anymore. If this happens to you, it’s important to call your Orthodontist to have a new retainer made right away. Your teeth have probably shifted at this point, and you want to make sure they don’t continue to do so.

Tips to Prevent Your Retainer from Being Lost or Broken

You can prevent having a lost or broken retainer if you already have some good habits in place. One key component to making your retainer last is proper care and cleaning, but using certain solutions can cause damage to your retainer. Read here for more information on how to carefully clean your retainer to prevent damaging or breaking it. Here are also a few simple tips to prevent losing or breaking your retainer:

  • Place your retainer in your mouth properly and remove gently with care.
  • Be sure to remove your retainer and place it in a proper case to keep it safe from pets.
  • Do not place your retainer in a napkin at mealtimes as it may be easily thrown away or broken.
  • Choose a brightly colored case and pick a specific location to keep it in.
  • Don’t forget to pack your retainer case when you’re traveling.

What to Expect at Your Retainer Replacement Appointment

An appointment to replace your retainer can take anywhere between 10-30 minutes in length. New molds of your teeth will need to be taken at this time to ensure the new retainer fits perfectly. These 3D clear, retainers are made in house and can be picked up on the same day as your appointment! If you prefer a traditional wire retainer, those can also be made and/or replaced. However, these do require a small fee since they are not made within our practice.

Upon the removal of braces, all of our patients receive one set of clear, 3D retainers. Not only does this give them one set to start using right away, but a backup set as well. We believe that a smile is an investment of a lifetime, and we are committed to providing our patients with retainers to last them forever. If you are a current or former patient of Fry Orthodontics, you likely already have a backup retainer on hand. 

What if I’m Not a Former Patient of Fry Orthodontics?

Now that you know what to do if you’ve lost or broken your retainer, remember that Fry Orthodontics is here for all your retainer replacement needs. If you think your retainer is broken in any way or think you’ve misplaced it, please give us a call. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have and will be ready to schedule an appointment in the event that you lose or break your retainer. Our team is always here to help you keep a smile that lasts for life!