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What do I do if I lose my retainer?

August 8, 2019
What do I do if I lose my retainer?
The day your child gets their braces removed can be an amazing feeling. You and your orthodontist would have been working extremely hard to keep your child’s treatment on track, and now they can show their straight and healthy smile with confidence. But your child’s orthodontic journey does not end on the day their braces are removed. There are still precautions you need to take to ensure their brand-new smile remains straight for years to come. This will usually involve wearing a retainer that encourages their teeth and jaws to stay fixed in their new position.

Types of retainers

There are various types of retainers your orthodontist may recommend.

These can either be fixed or removable, and will depend on your unique treatment option and result.

Fixed retainers involve a wire that is glued to the backside of your teeth to prevent movement while bone tissue rebuilds around them.

Removable retainers on the other hand are designed to be removable for ease of cleaning. They come in two main forms; plates or clear retainers. A plate retainer consists of an acrylic base with a wire across the front.  A clear retainer is made from a clear thermoplastic material.

All removable retainers are custom made from a mould or scan of your teeth once the braces are removed. Removable retainers need to be taken out when you are eating, cleaning your teeth, and playing sport. Your orthodontist will recommend the minimum number of hours it needs to be worn in a day for the removable retainers to be effective.

Removable retainers, if worn as instructed, are very effective at preventing  the movement of the teeth. However, a common concern parents have is that their child may lose or break their retainers which will have a long-term effect on their smile.

What to do if your child loses or breaks their removable retainer?

It’s important to ensure your child lets you know it has happened right away, so you can get a replacement retainer organised as soon as possible.

The first thing you need to do is contact your orthodontist who will then advise you what to do next. Most likely you will need to return the orthodontist’s office get a new set of impressions or scans done to ensure the new retainer is both comfortable and effective.

Since it can take some time for teeth to settle into their new position, without a retainer to hold the teeth down, the longer you wait to contact your orthodontist, the higher the risk of teeth shifting out of their positions and become crooked again.

How much does a new retainer cost?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked. A replacement will usually cost between $200 – $300, depending on the type of removable retainer you are using and the fee charged by the dental lab to the orthodontist.


What are some tips to avoid losing a removable retainer?

Here are some practical ways to reduce the likelihood of your child losing their removable retainer:

  • Always carry a retainer case – as soon as the retainer is out of the mouth, it must go into the retainer case straight away.
  • Avoid putting a retainer directly in a pocket or bag without protection as the retainer is fragile and may get damaged.
  • Never wrap a retainer in a napkin as it’s easy to forget or throw in the bin.
  • Keep the retainer out of reach of pets at all times.
  • Avoid cleaning under boiling water or in dishwashers as heat may warp the materials.

Not quite on your orthodontic journey yet? Use our OrthoCheck tool to find a specialist orthodontist who can advise you on all stages of orthodontic treatment.

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