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Lost your retainers? Here’s what to do

Lost your retainers

Retainers are a really important part of your orthodontic treatment. They’re responsible for making sure your teeth stay straight long after your braces have been removed. At Sensu we offer two types of retainers: fixed retainers and removable retainers.

While fixed retainers are permanently attached to the back of your teeth, removable retainers (as the name implies) can be taken in and out. Most patients will wear their removable retainers just at night.

Removable retainers are usually transparent, so unfortunately they’re fairly easy to misplace. Most of the time they turn up, but sometimes they find their way into the bin and no amount of searching will see you reunited.

If you’re reading this article and the worst has happened, you’ve lost your retainers, what should you do? You may be wondering if you still need to wear your retainers, after all your braces were taken off five years ago. The answer to this question is always: YES! If you want your teeth to stay straight, you need to wear your retainers.

Get in touch as soon as you can

The first thing you should do if you’ve lost your retainers is give your orthodontist or dentist a call as soon as you can. To make your new retainers, they may need to book you in for a new set of impressions (moulds of your teeth). They can also make sure that your fixed retainers (if you have them) are in good working order.

While fixed retainers are great at keeping your front teeth in position, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you don’t need your removable retainers too. If your clinician advised you to have removable retainers then they’re an important part of your retention regime.

Keep your retainers safe

To stop lost retainers from becoming a problem in the first place, try to put your retainers in a protective case as soon as you remove them. Unlike your retainers, these cases come in all sorts of conspicuous colours, helping you to locate them quickly.

Can't find my retainers


One of the worst things you can do when you take your retainers out is wrap them in tissue. This might seem like a good way to dry them off but it’s also a good way to lose them – especially if you live with someone else. And keep your retainers away from any pets that might mistake them for a new chew toy.

You may also want to consider getting a spare set of retainers made. Then if you do lose one set, you’ll have a back up. This is a particularly good idea if you travel a lot, or live between two locations.

Orthodontic relapse

If your retainers do turn up after a leave of absence, check to see if they still fit. If they feel a bit tight wear them as often as you can and this should gently correct any movement that’s occurred. If they feel uncomfortable, then contact your clinician – they may need to make you a new set.

Once your teeth have moved past a certain point, your retainers won’t be able to squeeze them back into position and you will probably need braces again to restraighten your teeth.

Providing your teeth haven’t moved very far, treatment can be very quick. When teeth move after orthodontic treatment we call this ‘orthodontic relapse’. It’s so common that braces have been specially designed to treat relapse cases. These include Invisalign Express (pictured below) and Simpli5.
Invisalign i7

Broken fixed retainers

While your fixed retainers are unlikely to go missing, they can become detached or damaged. Not only can this be uncomfortable, but it puts you at risk of orthodontic relapse. If you experience any problems with your fixed retainer, let your clinician know. They’ll need to get you booked in for a repair, and in the meantime they’ll probably ask you to wear your removable retainers more diligently.

If you had your treatment at Sensu and are experiencing any problems with your retainers, please call us on 020 3393 6640.

Please note, we only offer retainer repairs or replacements for existing patients.

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