fixed retainers

What Should I Do If I Break Or Lose My Retainer?

February 11th, 2018

If a patient has lost or broken a removable retainer -- or if their dog has chomped on it, as sometimes happens -- they shouldn’t panic. They should simply call their Orthodontist in Mesa Az and make an appointment to be fitted with a new one as soon as possible. But things can get complicated when a fixed retainer is broken.

What's a Retainer?

The retainer is a device that helps the patient’s teeth and mouth sustain the improvements that they achieved while they were wearing braces or Invisalign. Some can be taken out, but others are fixed and should only be taken out by the orthodontist. When retainers are broken or lost, the teeth the patient or their parents paid a good bit of money to get straightened start to go back to their old, unwanted positions right away.

One problem about broken fixed retainers is that sometimes the patient doesn’t know that the retainer is broken until they examine their teeth one day and find that they're moving out of alignment. If the patient sees this, they should make an appointment with their orthodontist to have the retainer fixed or replaced.

removable retainer

Of course, such accidents tend to happen on the weekends or at night or on vacation. In the case of a removable retainer, the patient can call their orthodontist, and ask that a new retainer be made along the lines of the old one. The good news is that the orthodontist probably has kept the patient’s retainer molds. The new retainer can be shipped down to the vacation spot, or the patient’s usual orthodontist can refer them to a local orthodontist. Following are other things to consider:

  • Have someone examine the fixed retainer to see if it's stable. A removable retainer can simply be taken out by the patient and examined.
  • The patient should not eat the types of foods they were forbidden to eat while they wore braces, such as foods that were hard or sticky.
  • The patient or their guardian can go to the drug store, and buy a mouth guard. This will protect a fixed retainer during the night, and keep the teeth stable.
  • If the patient has both fixed and removable retainers, it’s especially important to wear the removable retainers if the fixed ones are broken.
  • If the patient has sore spots in their mouth, they should rinse with warm salty water and an antibacterial mouthwash. This will fight bacteria that would take advantage of areas made vulnerable by the broken retainer.

Why Do Fixed Retainers Fail?

Fixed retainers fail because they are deliberately not made to be very strong. They need to be thin because of aesthetic concerns, to make it easy for the patient to take care of their teeth and to let the teeth move just a little bit in the periodontal ligament. This movement keeps the bone of the jaw strong. The glue that holds the retainer to the teeth can also deteriorate or even be damaged when the patient eats or even gets their teeth cleaned at the dentist.

So, don't panic over broken retainers, but make sure they are seen to as soon as practicable.

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