1 in 3 adults head to the orthodontist at least once in their lives. Most of them do so to get their crooked teeth straightened to improve the form and function of their smiles.
After months or years of braces, orthodontists impart on patients a tool they’re to wear in perpetuity that will allow them to preserve their new bite. That tool is called a retainer and it’s one of the world’s easiest things to lose.
If you’re unsure of what to do if you lose your retainer, keep reading. We have compiled a series of cool-headed, productive tips that will help you on your way to getting your lost device back or getting your hands on a new one.
Retrace Your Steps
You’ve reached into your bedside drawer and have realized that your retainer is not in its case. Now what?
Well, the first thing you’ll want to focus on doing is finding your misplaced retainer. Start that process by retracing your steps.
When was the last time you remember having your retainer? Where are the possible places it could have ended up between then and now?
There’s nothing worse than dropping hundreds of dollars on a new retainer only to find your old one sitting on your kitchen counter. Give locating your old device effort before moving onto subsequent steps.
Get a Quote from Your Orthodontist
You can’t seem to find your retainer anywhere and you’re worried that every night that goes by without it, your teeth are in danger of shifting. To minimize damage, your next step should be to put in a call to your orthodontist to get a quote and make an appointment.
Your orthodontist’s receptionist should be able to tell you how much retainers cost. Note that the figure provided could assume you don’t have insurance.
Take note of the cost and for safety’s sake, do make an appointment to come in while you explore other options, particularly if your ortho’s calendar is always busy.
Talk to Your Insurance Company
Does the price you were quoted for a retainer sound too rich for your blood? Double-check with your insurer to find out if they cover retainer replacements and if so, to what degree.
If you find that your insurer covers retainer replacements up to 50% and your orthodontist is charging you $500 for a retainer, with insurance, you’ll know that your ortho is pricing retainers at $1000 which is a context that may help you decide if it’s worth pursuing our next suggestion…
When you sit in your orthodontist’s chair, they’ll pull out what’s called an “impression kit” that’ll take an imprint of your teeth. That imprint is then sent off to a facility that makes retainers that fit you from those imprints.
Unbeknownst to many, you can actually order an impression kit yourself, make your own impression, and send off your kit without the help of an orthodontist. Doing that will undoubtedly save you money and time.
The only downside is potentially not doing your impression correctly. With effort and some online tutorials, however, we’re confident you can get the job done!
Head to Your Ortho
Too timid to do self-impressions? If so, your next what to do if you lose your retainer step is to cash in on that appointment you made earlier with your orthodontist.
When you see your ortho, know that you’ll likely be charged whatever visitation fee they impose plus the fees involved in getting your new retainer done.
Before getting any services, go over the cost again with your ortho and ensure they’re aware of the degree to which your insurance company covers your retainer replacements. If you find your orthodontist is not pricing services in a way that works for you, search “Invisalign provider near me” to find other local orthos.
Now comes the toughest step in the lost retainer process… Waiting for a new retainer.
It usually takes two weeks or so for a new retainer to land at your orthodontist’s office. During this time, depending on how long you had your last retainer, you may notice your teeth start to shift.
Talk to your orthodontist about how you can mitigate damage on that front and know that minor shifts may be remedied once you start using your new retainer regularly.
Create a Plan for Not Losing Your Retainer Again
Your retainer drama has subsided and now you have a new one to use and take care of. How are you going to make sure you don’t lose your retainer again? That’s a question you have to ask and answer.
Our advice to you is to think things through though and put processes in place that mitigate the risk of ending back up in a place where you’re spending hundreds of dollars and putting the integrity of your smile at risk.
You Now Know What to Do If You Lose Your Retainer
Knowing what to do if you lose your retainer lets you remain action-oriented during a time when a lot of people move into panic mode.
To boil down everything we’ve shared into a single goal, know that if your retainer gets misplaced, your goal is to get your hands on a new one as quickly and as affordably as possible. Whatever moves you can make to achieve that end, in our book, are moves worth making.
There is a lot to know about the world of orthodontics and health. If you’re curious to dive deeper into those topics, explore more of the content we have on our blog.