What Should I Do If I Lose Or Damage My Retainers?

You know how sometimes you set something down somewhere, and then suddenly it’s gone? That something may very well be your retainer! Thacker Orthodontics understands that accidents happen, which is why today we want to answer this question for you: What should I do if I lose or damage my retainers?

What Are Retainers For?

Retainers are removable, custom-made appliances used after active orthodontic treatment to maintain a person’s lovely new smile. They’re usually worn at night. Regular wear is key since teeth can revert back into their original positions if they aren’t maintained.

When Things Go Wrong

In addition to being lost, there are many ways your retainer can be damaged. This can happen in a single occurrence or over time.

  1. Dropping them: Retainers are far from indestructible! If you drop them onto a solid surface like concrete, they can break or warp.
  2. Pets: It’s not uncommon for dogs (and some cats) to eat homework. We also hear they like to chew on retainers. Keep them out of reach!
  3. Chewing on them: Some patients might have a habit of chewing on their retainers, which can cause deformation over time. 
  4. Improper cleaning: Using abrasive cleaners or brushing too vigorously can scratch or damage the surface of retainers.
  5. Exposure to heat: Excessive heat exposure can cause retainers to warp their shape, which impacts their effectiveness.
  6. Chemical exposure: Some cleaners or substances can be abrasive, like certain cleaners or mouthwash containing alcohol. This can impact the retainer if used too often.
What Should I Do If I Lose Or Damage My Retainers?

How We Help You Out

So, if you do find yourself in one of these scenarios, you might wonder how to troubleshoot. Below are some of the steps Dr. Jim and Dr. MaryEvan will suggest you take!

  1. Contact Your Orthodontist: First and foremost, you should always contact our office! We will want to take a look at the appliance if it’s damaged, or we’ll start the process of finding a replacement for a lost one.
  2. Assess the Damage: If you’re facing damage but not loss, take inventory of how bad it is. If it’s minor, it might not even need to be fully replaced—but we’ll still want to know the extent of the damage.
  3. Avoid Delay: One of the worst things you can do is wait. Chances are, your orthodontic treatment took months to years. We don’t want to jeopardize all of that hard work!
  4. Store Your Retainer Properly: When you aren’t wearing your retainer, it should always be in a solid case and never be left out on your counter. For example, if loss has been an issue in the past for you, try to take note of when you put your retainer into its case and where the case is placed.
  5. Consider Temporary Measures: While your replacement is on the way, we might suggest temporary measures. It could be a good idea to use a spare retainer for the time being, or to use orthodontic wax if it can mend minor repairs.
  6. Follow Instructions: Try not to improvise! Our Thacker Orthodontics team will provide you with instructions based on your situation. When you receive this information, do your very best to follow it accurately. This includes attending any appointments we set up.
  7. Avoid DIY Repairs: Definitely do not try to use any miscellaneous methods or materials to fix a broken retainer! Repairs and replacements should be left to our expert team!
  8. Communicate Any Concerns: Sometimes, damage can be subtle. Your retainer just might feel a little bit off for some reason. If you suspect there’s an issue with your appliance, let us know; if we catch it early, we might be able to avoid replacing it!

FAQs About Retainers

In addition to all of this, there might be some other questions you have, which our team can address here:

Q: What should I do if my retainer feels tight or uncomfy?

A: This can indicate the retainer itself is distorting, but also that your teeth are shifting. This is usually the result of not wearing your appliance as instructed.

Q: What is the best way to store my retainer?

A: We recommend a strong, hard-shelled case. It can also be helpful to have one in a fun color or to decorate it, as this makes it easier to identify. 

Q: Can I wear a damaged retainer?
A: There’s a good chance the answer is no. Unless damage is extremely minor, replacement or repair is always the solution.

What Should I Do If I Lose Or Damage My Retainers?

Thacker Orthodontics to the Rescue!

As you can see, retainers are serious business! Some patients think less of this step because it comes after their braces, but it’s actually still part of treatment. If you have any questions or are seeking orthodontic treatment, contact our Cincinnati or Hillsboro offices for more information