What to do if you lose your retainers

Lost retainer

When you finish your orthodontic treatment, you’ll be fitted with removable retainers. If you have private treatment, you’ll be given fixed retainers too. They’re both designed to hold your smile in its new position and prevent your teeth from moving, or ‘relapsing’ as we like to call it.

Fixed retainers are attached behind your front teeth – they consist of a thin metal wire. Removable retainers (pictured below) fit over your teeth like a mouthguard – only they’re much thinner and transparent, so they’re very discreet.

Retainers need to be worn indefinitely to maintain the results of your treatment. Without them your teeth are likely to move back to where they started. How quickly this happens and how far they’ll move varies patient to patient.

If you stop wearing your retainers at any point – even decades after your treatment – your well-earned results could unravel.

Missing removable retainer

If your retainers go MIA, contact us straight away

If the worst does happen and you find an empty retainer case, don’t panic. Contact us as soon as you can to arrange an appointment.

Even if you have fixed retainers, it’s important to replace removable aligners speedily. Fixed retainers only stop your front teeth from moving, whereas removable retainers secure your back teeth too.

Your teeth and gums may have shifted slightly since we last created moulds of your teeth, so we’ll need to take new impressions for your replacement retainers.

These will be sent straight to our lab to turn into custom-made retainers. We’ll arrange another appointment to fit your retainers when they arrive back at the practice the following week. When we fit your retainers, we’ll make any necessary adjustments and give you a new case to keep them safe.

If your teeth move slightly while you’re waiting for your new retainers, this should be corrected when you start wearing them. Your teeth may feel slightly achy for a few days while they settle into position.

NHS funding doesn’t cover replacement retainers, so there will be a charge for your new set. We’ll provide you with a fixed price when you call us to arrange your appointment. It will include your impressions, retainers and the appointment where we fit your retainers.

Tips to avoid losing your retainers

You can reduce the risk of losing your retainers by storing them in their case when you’re not wearing them. Because they’re so discreet, they can easily go missing if they’re left out unattended.

It may be tempting to rinse them and wrap them in tissue, but beware, they might get thrown away by a well-intentioned housemate or parent.

To make the experience of losing your removable retainers less stressful you may want to invest in a spare set of retainers. A second set can also be handy if you travel a lot or split your time between two locations.

Your options if your teeth have moved

If your teeth have already moved, you have a few options:

  1. You can do nothing, but your teeth may keep moving.
  2. You can have new retainers made to hold your teeth in their new position.
  3. You can wear braces again to straighten your teeth before we fit new retainers.

If you’re thinking about braces again, depending on how far your teeth have strayed, your treatment could be much quicker than the first-time round. If your teeth have only relapsed very slightly, you may be a good candidate for Invisalign Express (pictured below).

Invisalign ExpressInvisalign ClinCheck

This popular clear brace system straightens teeth using clear, removable aligners. Your treatment could be completed within a few months and we can even show you a step-by-step preview before we begin.

To find out more about the different ways we can straighten orthodontic relapse, contact us to arrange a free consultation with a specialist orthodontist.

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