Of the 9 million people in the United States who receive orthodontic care each year, most have one thing in common post-treatment: lost retainers. In this blog, you’ll learn what to do if you lose your retainer so that you can retain your straight smile.
What’s A Retainer?
Retainers play a crucial role in the ongoing success of your orthodontic treatment. Your retainer helps to support the changes made by orthodontic treatment and stabilize your teeth in their corrected position. Wearing a retainer keeps your teeth from shifting back to their original, misaligned places over time.
You might be surprised to learn that not all retainers are alike.
Hawley Retainer (Removable)
Hawley retainers are removable, made of acrylic and wire. It consists of a plastic plate that rests against the roof of the mouth or sits along the inside of the lower jaw. This plate is connected to a wire that wraps around the front teeth, providing support and stabilization. A top or bottom replacement can cost $150-$300.
Essix Retainer (Removable)
An Essix retainer, also known as a clear aligner retainer or invisible retainer, is a transparent, removable retainer made of thin, clear plastic that sits on top of your teeth like a shield. It’s less noticeable than the Hawley retainer due to its clear material. Depending on how many replacements you need, you’ll likely pay anywhere from $100-$500.
Fixed Retainer (Permanent)
A fixed retainer, also known as a bonded retainer or permanent retainer, is a non-removable retainer that’s bonded to the back surface of the teeth. It typically consists of a thin wire attached to the lingual (tongue-side) surface of the upper or lower teeth. This retainer is typically used for a more extended period to ensure long-term stability. A replacement arch will cost $250-$500.
What Do You Do When You Lose Your Retainer?
If you’ve ever muttered the words, “I lost my retainer,” there’s no need to worry—it happens! Knowing what to do if you lost your retainer is essential, as getting a replacement is vital to preventing a reversal of the progress made during your prior orthodontic treatment.
As soon as you realize your retainer is missing, contact your orthodontist. Be honest about the last time you had it in and how long it’s been missing since this will help your orthodontist determine if any adjustments need to be made. If it’s been a while, your orthodontist may need to make new impressions of your teeth. If you’ve moved since your initial treatment, you can contact a nearby orthodontist to discuss your options.
While waiting for a replacement retainer, it’s crucial to maintain good oral hygiene and take extra care of your teeth. Continue brushing and flossing regularly to prevent any potential oral health issues. Additionally, be mindful of your eating habits. Avoid biting into hard or sticky foods that could potentially cause your teeth to shift.
Once you have your new retainer, wear it for-ev-er to keep your teeth in their proper position.
What Happens When You Lose Your Retainer?
When you lose your retainer, several things can happen:
- Teeth shifting: “I lost my retainer, and my teeth have moved!” This is very common. The primary purpose of a retainer is to maintain the alignment achieved through orthodontic treatment. When you lose your retainer and do not replace it promptly, there’s a risk of teeth shifting back toward their original positions.
- Discomfort and tightness: If you don’t wear your retainer, your teeth may begin to feel tight or uncomfortable. This discomfort can increase over time as the teeth gradually shift out of alignment. You may also experience difficulty wearing the new retainer when you finally get a replacement due to the misalignment that occurred in the meantime.
- Additional orthodontic treatment: Depending on how much your teeth have shifted since you lost your retainer, you may require additional orthodontic treatment to bring them back into proper alignment.
- Financial cost: Replacing your retainer can incur additional costs. The replacement cost will vary depending on the type of retainer and the specific circumstances. It’s important to check with your orthodontist about any associated fees for replacement retainers.
Tips to Prevent Losing Your Retainer
There are a few tips that can help you ensure your retainer stays safe:
- Store it in its case when not in use
- Place the retainer in a secure location that’s out of reach for pets and children
- Don’t wear it during sports or other activities where there’s potential for loss
- Consider attaching a lanyard to the retainer case so it’s easy to find when needed
- Consider investing in a backup retainer set
With a few simple steps, you can prevent your retainer from being lost, damaged, or stolen and keep it in good condition for years to come.
“I Lost My Retainer! What Should I Do?” Contact Dr. Bates
So, “What do you do when you lose your retainer?” Call your orthodontist! By contacting your orthodontist as soon as possible, you can get a replacement retainer and prevent undergoing additional orthodontic treatment.
At Bates Orthodontics, we understand that losing a retainer can be stressful and even embarrassing, but don’t let that prevent you from calling us! Our team will do everything possible to help you get back on track.
Contact Bates Orthodontics to learn about our Retainers for Life program because when life happens, we want to be there to help.