The main purpose behind wearing a retainer is to maintain the changes achieved by orthodontic treatment such as braces. These devices may be fixed or removable, and the replacement of a removable broken retainer is fairly simple. A fixed or lingual retainer is a little harder to manage because it might have to be removed from your mouth by a dental professional.
What happens if you break your retainer? Read on to learn the consequences and what actions you can take at home.
Recognizing Damage to a Fixed Retainer
It's not always obvious when a bonded retainer has sustained damage, which makes it essential to get regular dental checkups. Wear and tear, eating hard foods or an injury to your mouth can cause your teeth to detach from the retainer or the wires to break. You may not be aware of an issue until your teeth begin to move out of their correct position.
Removing a Broken Retainer
Usually, a bonded retainer will need to be removed from your mouth by an orthodontic professional, who will determine whether it can be repaired or if it requires replacement. To do this, your provider must remove the dental cement with a drill, ease the retainer away from the teeth and finish off by cleaning and polishing the surface of your teeth.
What You Can Do At Home
If you discover that your retainer might be damaged and are unable to get to the orthodontist or dentist immediately, there are a few things you can do to minimize the damage to your mouth:
- Get a family member to examine your retainer and determine whether it seems stable in your mouth and if you can still use it. For a removable retainer, you can examine it yourself to see how severe the damage is.
- Purchase an over-the-counter mouth guard to wear at night, which will help to protect a fixed retainer while you sleep and prevent any movement of the teeth until you can see your orthodontist, according to the American Dental Association.
- Avoid hard foods until you can get the attention you need to repair or remove the retainer.
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to help heal any painful spots.
- Step up your oral hygiene by adding an antibacterial mouthrinse, such as Colgate Total® Advanced Pro-Shield™ Mouthwash. This is particularly important if the damage makes it possible for food or bacteria to access previously unreachable areas, such as between the back of your teeth and the retainer.
Teeth keep moving until you're in your early to mid-20s because the jaw is still growing. Your best option is to get a new retainer made as soon as possible if your broken retainer can't be repaired. If you are unable to visit your orthodontist, you may be able to ask them to remake your retainer based on their records if you haven't had it for a very long. They can ship it to you or an orthodontist close to you can have it fitted. This will save you the cost of having the entire process redone.
Alternatively, a cheap removable retainer could help to support your mouth until you are able to get a new fixed retainer created.
If you've made the investment in orthodontic treatment to achieve a beautiful smile, don't let a broken retainer undo all that hard work. Get a dental opinion as soon as possible about whether your retainer needs replacing, and arrange a payment plan with your orthodontist that enables you to get the treatment you require.