If you have had braces or another form of orthodontic treatment in the past, you are definitely familiar with retainers. Retainers are an integral part of post-treatment care and are essential to maintaining your orthodontic treatment results as they keep your teeth from shifting back to their previous positions, and forgetting to wear them can allow these shifts to happen. Remembering to wear them is its own separate problem, but what do you do if your retainer breaks? How to fix a cracked retainer?
There is certainly no need to panic, but you also need to address the problem as soon as possible if you want to maintain your ideal teeth alignment.
Why Retainers Get Cracked?
Before discussing how to fix or what to do if a retainer is cracked, let’s first understand what leads retainers to crack.
- Normal wear and tear: Retainers, whether they are removable or fixed, are subject to normal wear and tear over time. The constant pressure from your teeth can gradually weaken the material, causing it to crack.
- Biting or chewing hard objects: Accidentally biting down on hard objects like ice, pens, or fingernails can exert excessive force on the retainer, leading to cracks or fractures.
- Improper cleaning: Some forms of damage to a plastic or Essix retainer can result from improper cleaning of the retainer. If you feel as though this might be the case with your retainer, you should look further into how to clean retainers.
- Incorrect handling: Mishandling your retainer can also lead to cracks. For removable retainers, dropping them or applying too much force when inserting or removing them can cause structural damage.
- Changes in temperature: Extreme temperature changes, such as exposing your retainer to hot liquids or leaving it in a freezing environment, can weaken the material and contribute to cracking.
- Grinding or clenching teeth: Individuals who grind or clench their teeth (bruxism) may inadvertently put excessive pressure on their retainers, leading to cracks or deformation.
- Natural material breakdown: Over time, the materials used in retainers can naturally degrade, making them more prone to cracking or breaking.
Understanding the potential causes of retainer cracks can help you take preventive measures and handle your retainer with care to extend its lifespan.
Broken Retainer: What to Do?
If you’ve reached for your retainer and realized that it’s cracked or broken, the very first thing you should do is contact a dental professional. Don’t rush to Google “how to fix a broken retainer.” The more quickly you let your orthodontist know that you will likely be needing a new retainer, the more likely it is that your teeth will not have time to shift out of place due to a lack of retainer use.
How to Determine a Damaged Retainer?
If you can’t reach your orthodontist right away, that’s okay. In this case, you should examine the extent of the damage to your retainer to determine if it is still at least partially functional. If you find that your cracked retainer simply has a small crack but will still fit over your teeth as it usually would, it would be wise to continue wearing it until you are able to get in touch with your orthodontist. If, on the other hand, your removable retainer has more severe damage and you cannot fit it over your teeth, or it does not fit well, it would be in your best interest to wait until you get a new one before attempting to put it on. In the best-case scenario, wearing a retainer that does not fit appropriately will not do anything to improve your teeth alignment, and in the worst-case scenario, it could actually cause harm.
Broken Retainer Removal
Your replacement retainer will likely incur an additional cost as most forms of dental insurance do not cover it, but even that would be cheaper than the alternative: having to undergo orthodontic treatment again. If you do not fix your broken retainer or get a new retainer in a timely fashion, your teeth will begin to drift back to how they were prior to your initial orthodontic treatment. If this is the case, you may need to get braces or invisible aligners once again and pay for this treatment all over again.
How to Fix a Cracked Retainer?
As mentioned before, the best thing you could do is getting the retainer fixed; however, it must be said that if your removable retainer is cracked, you might be able to continue wearing it if the damage is not severe. In fact, if the retainer is cracked and not physically split into two or more pieces, you should be okay to wear it prior to consulting your orthodontist to prevent your teeth from shifting. Your orthodontist may be able to fix a cracked retainer that has minor to moderate damage, but a replacement may be necessary in some cases.
How to fix a broken plastic retainer?
First and foremost, you should not attempt to fix a broken plastic retainer yourself.
- If your retainer is, in fact, broken into separate pieces, you should not attempt in any way to glue those pieces back together.
- If you try to fix your broken plastic retainer yourself after thinking, “how to fix a cracked retainer?” you may accidentally fix it incorrectly and harm the material of the retainer or cause eventual harm to your teeth themselves.
- Common household adhesives are not medical-grade and therefore should not be used on plastic retainers.
- You should approach a broken plastic retainer almost in the same way you would react to a lost retainer– by contacting your orthodontist to get a retainer replacement.
How to fix a broken Invisalign retainer?
You should approach fixing a broken Invisalign retainer similarly to how you would approach fixing any other broken plastic retainer.
- Do not attempt to repair your cracked Invisalign retainer yourself. As discussed above, you may inadvertently cause damage to either your retainer or to your teeth. Internet searches for how to fix a clear plastic retainer, in this case, might provide false or misleading information, and it is always best to defer to the expertise of your orthodontist.
- If it is an Invisalign retainer that is used during the treatment process that is damaged, you might proceed differently. These retainers, or aligner trays, are typically changed every two weeks. Therefore, the timing of the broken retainer within your treatment timeline might affect how you react.
If the retainer breaks early in the two-week treatment phase, you might be able to go back to the previous retainer. Similarly, if it breaks later in the treatment phase, you might be able to move forward to the next retainer set without getting your current one fixed or replaced. You should consult an Invisalign-certified orthodontist if you are unsure of how to proceed, as they will be able to tell you whether or not you will need to come into the office to get your retainer replaced or fixed, so the first step is to look for “the best orthodontist near me” in Google and find the best Invisalign professional in your area. After receiving your new retainer or getting your retainer fixed, you should be able to proceed on the same treatment timeline.
What not to Do with a Cracked Retainer?
The first thing to avoid doing with a cracked retainer is to not wear it if it is broken either into more than one piece or if it otherwise does not sit correctly on your teeth. The proper functioning of your retainer is dependent on the correct fit and rigidity of the retainer, so if either of these functions are compromised, your retainer will not work as intended.
Furthermore, you should not apply glue in an attempt to fix your retainer, even though you find that info in online guides about how to fix a broken retainer. The use of superglue or other common household glues is not recommended for use on retainers. These adhesives are not medical grade or meant to be on something that will be in your mouth, so the chemicals in them have the potential to enter your body and potentially cause harm. These chemicals could harm both your oral health and pose a general risk, so it is best to err on the side of caution.
Lastly, you should not throw out your cracked retainer, even if it is broken. Your orthodontists will likely want to see the extent of the damage themselves, and if the damage is not severe, they may be able to repair the retainer. The cost of fixing a broken or damaged retainer is likely much less than the cost of having to buy a brand new replacement retainer. Companies like Sporting Smiles offer replacement retainers at prices as low as $135 for a set. This American brand is a great option to consider as they provide high-quality retainers at a budget-friendly price.
What to Do if my Permanent Retainer Broke?
If your permanent retainer broke, you should follow do the same as if it had been a plastic retainer that broke: try to contact your orthodontist as soon as possible and if you are able to reach them, make an appointment to go into the office as quickly as possible to get your retainer repaired.
However, given that a permanent retainer is bonded directly to your teeth, damage to this type of retainer tends to be slightly more serious than damage to a removable plastic retainer. Permanent retainers are made out of a metal wire that is then glued to your teeth to keep them in place following orthodontic treatment. These metal parts have more potential for harm than a typical plastic retainer. If your permanent retainer is broken in a way that results in pain or swelling due to metal pieces cutting into your mouth or gums, you should seek medical help.
Retainers are crucial to the continued success of your orthodontic treatment, and you should respond quickly if they become damaged in any way. Whether your broken retainer is plastic and removable, or a permanent retainer, you should always try to contact your orthodontist or dental clinic as soon as possible once you discover that your retainer is broken. They will then be able to give you a professional opinion on what you should do and whether you need to come into the office to either get your retainer fixed or to get a replacement retainer. In the meantime, you should be able to continue wearing a removable retainer as long as it is not broken into completely separate parts. However, a completely broken plastic retainer or a damaged permanent retainer requires faster action, as you will definitely need to visit your orthodontist’s office as soon as possible.
Finally, if you are wondering how to fix a cracked retainer at home, do not attempt to fix it at home, as this will likely only lead to either further damage of your retainer or to the regression of your teeth to their previous placement.
Editor's Picks: The Top 2 Aligners' Brands
If you are worried about losing or breaking the retainer before starting your treatment, we have selected not only the brands that offer the best solutions to broken retainers (protection plans, affordable retainers, etc.), but also the best brands on the market.
Byte is a well-known brand for having the shortest treatment time at a competitive price. The brand offers 2 types of treatments: At-Day and At-Night treatment plans, both including the HyperByte device, the reason why you can achieve your perfect smile in 3 months (average).
If you lose or break your retainer, the only thing you will have to do is contact the brand, and they send you a FREE replacement if you are enrolled in the Byte Protection Plan. However, if you are not enrolled, don’t worry, you can get a new one for a little price. You can learn a lot more about the brand by reading Byte reviews.
The most affordable option among these brands is NewSmile, but its price is not the only benefit of choosing its alignment treatment. NewSmile offers daytime and nighttime treatment plans, a short treatment time with an average of 5 months and convenience as the treatment is 100% at-home.
Regarding the aligners’ replacements, if you break or lose your retainer, you can get a set of two for just $225. You can learn more about the brand by reading our NewSmile teeth aligners review.
A retainer can crack due to several reasons, including age, wear and tear, improper use, accidental damage, and exposure to extreme temperatures or pressure.
It is not recommended to go without wearing a broken retainer for any length of time, as it can lead to teeth shifting back to their original position. It's best to get the retainer repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
It depends on the severity of the crack. If the crack is small and does not affect the fit or function of the retainer, it may still be wearable. However, it's best to consult with an orthodontist or dentist to determine if the retainer needs repair or replacement.
No, it is not recommended to superglue a retainer as it can damage the material and compromise its function. It's best to consult with an orthodontist or dentist to determine the appropriate repair method for a broken retainer.
The cost of replacing a retainer can vary depending on the type of retainer, the complexity of the replacement, and the geographic location. In general, the cost can range from $150 to $400 or more. It's best to consult with an orthodontist or dentist to get an accurate estimate of the cost of retainer replacement.
To prevent cracks in your retainers, handle them gently, clean them regularly with mild soap, store them in a case, avoid exposure to heat, and refrain from chewing on hard objects. Regular check-ups with your orthodontist and following their care instructions can also help maintain your retainers' integrity.