Retainers: a patient’s best friend
Without retainers, that year or two you spent wearing braces could well be for nothing. It’s easy to think that the hard work is over, and your teeth (now looking utterly beautiful) will magically remain spectacularly straight – but retainers are responsible for making sure that your teeth don’t move after you’ve finished your orthodontic treatment, keeping your confident new smile on the straight and narrow. Without retainers, your teeth will slowly move back towards their pre-treatment position, an outcome that we’re sure you are as keen as us to avoid!
Tip number 1; never underestimate the importance of your trusty retaining friend! Keep it close and dear to make sure all those months of treatment don’t go to waste.
Losing your retainers
But for all their good points, the bad news is that your removable retainers are (understandably) discreet and therefore can be tricky to find if they do get misplaced! Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for our patients’ removable retainers to disappear, never to be seen again.
As with most things in dentistry, prevention is better than cure. So when you take your removable retainers out, pop them into their protective case straight away. We also recommend not wrapping your retainers in tissue (they’ll almost certainly find their way into the bin) and make sure you keep them away from pets of all shapes and sizes!
If you are prone to losing things, or would just like the convenience of two sets of retainers, you might want to consider buying a spare set when your braces are removed. Just let us know before we take your impressions (moulds of your teeth), and we can arrange for a second set to be made at a reduced price.
Keep calm and carry on
Despite your best efforts, you’re only human, and losing things (particularly that one singular sock) seems almost inevitable sometimes; so here’s our advice on what to do should your retainers go into hiding:
1. Don’t panic: your teeth won’t instantly move back into their pre-treatment position. But do make sure you get in touch with us as soon as you can. You’ll need to come in for new impressions, so give reception a call during opening hours, so they can get you booked in. You can find your nearest practice’s phone number here.
2. Unfortunately, the NHS doesn’t supply replacement retainers, so you will be charged for your new removable retainers. A member of our team will be able to give you a fixed price before you book your appointment, so there will be no surprises on the day.
3. Once you’ve been to see us for your impressions, your removable retainers will usually arrive the following week. If your teeth have started to move during this time, your new retainers will gently squeeze them back in line.
But I have fixed retainers; won’t these keep my teeth straight?
If you’ve had private orthodontic treatment at Total Orthodontics, you are likely to have been provided with fixed retainers as well as removable retainers. Fixed retainers consist of a thin wire, which is permanently attached to the back of your teeth, ensuring they stay put. While fixed retainers provide extra security against relapse (your teeth moving back to where they started), they’re only fitted to the front six teeth, so it’s really important for you to wear your removable retainers as well, as instructed by your specialist orthodontist or therapist.
So, don’t worry if your retainers do become misplaced – you’re certainly not the first patient this has happened to, and you won’t be the last. Just make sure you get in touch with us as soon as you can, so we can advise you on the best course of action.