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

It’s fairly common knowledge that you should try to keep up with your retainer. But nobody is perfect, and it’s good to be prepared. Today, Innovative Orthodontics will let you know: What should I do if I lose or damage my retainers?

What Are Retainers?

Retainers are orthodontic appliances used to maintain the position of teeth after the completion of orthodontic treatment. They are custom-made devices typically made of plastic or metal that fit over the teeth. Retainers are often given to patients after braces are removed to prevent teeth from shifting back into their former positions. 

What Can Go Wrong

There are quite a few ways retainers can be damaged, either in a single incident or over time. 

  • Dropping them: Accidentally dropping retainers, especially on harder surfaces like concrete or tile, can cause them to break or become misshapen.
  • Chewing on them: Some people develop a habit of chewing on their retainers, which can weaken or damage the material over time. 
  • Exposure to heat: Retainers should never be exposed to high temperatures, such as leaving them in a hot car or placing them near a heat source, as this can and often will distort their shape. 
  • Improper cleaning: Using abrasive cleaners or brushing too vigorously can scratch or damage the surface. 
  • Pets: Your pets might mistake retainers for chew toys, leading to damage or destruction. Keep them out of reach!
  • Chemical exposure: Some substances, like certain cleaning agents or mouthwashes containing alcohol, can damage the material of the retainer if it comes into contact with them regularly.

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

Taking Action

So, if you happen to have these problems with your retainers, what steps do you take? Here are some of the approaches Dr. Waters and Dr. Clayton would recommend:

  • Contact Your Orthodontist: This should always be the first and most important step. Contact our office as soon as you possibly can to fill us in on your situation—we can provide you guidance based on your case and give you temporary solutions until you get into the office.
  • Assess the Damage: If your retainer is damaged but still intact, assess the extent of the damage. Minor damage might not necessitate immediate replacement, but our Innovative Orthodontics team should still evaluate it to ensure the retainer will continue to do its job.
  • Follow Instructions: Do not try to improvise! Dr. Waters, Dr. Clayton, or one of our staff members will provide you with instructions. It’s important to take this guidance seriously. For example, if we recommend coming into the office for further evaluation, be sure to attend the appointment. 
  • Consider Temporary Measures: While waiting for a replacement retainer or repair to be completed, you may need to consider temporary measures to prevent your teeth from shifting in the meantime. If you have a previous retainer on hand, we may recommend wearing it. You can also use orthodontic wax to cover any sharp edges on a damaged retainer.
  • Avoid Delay: It’s key not to delay addressing this issue. Your progress during treatment can be undone when your teeth are allowed to shift significantly back into their original positions. This can actually lead to extensive additional corrective measures.
  • Store Your Retainer Properly: When you’re not wearing your retainer, store it in its case to protect it from damage. Things are more likely to go wrong when a retainer is left out without protection. 
  • Avoid DIY Repairs: Refrain from attempting to repair your retainer on your own, as improper repairs can compromise its effectiveness and lead to further damage. Always seek professional assistance for repairs or replacements. 
  • Communicate Any Concerns: If you experience discomfort or notice any changes in how your retainer fits or functions, don’t hesitate to contact Innovative Orthodontics. 

FAQs About Retainers

Here are some additional questions that you might have about your retainer.

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

This can indicate that your teeth have shifted slightly or the retainer has become slightly distorted. If you haven’t been wearing it consistently, this can be a fairly common consequence.

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

Using a hard-shelled plastic case is the best way to protect it from damage and contamination. Avoid leaving it exposed to air or sunlight, as it can cause it to degrade or warp.

Q: Should I wear a damaged retainer?
Probably not. We will have to evaluate the extent of damage to determine if repairs or replacements are needed.

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

Keeping Things Straight

So just remember, the most important step to take when your retainer breaks or is lost is to contact our Innovative Orthodontics team for guidance. We have three amazing offices ready to serve you: Savannah, Rincon, and Pooler.