Once you are done with the braces or clear aligners, it’s time to put on the retainers! It will give the final touches to your dazzling and perfectly shaped smile. But this final step needs immense care, precaution, and maintenance. But often, we don’t take much care of retainers. Because we get tired from the long orthodontic treatment, we overlook the prominent signs of wear and tear in the retainers. In fact, research by Angle Orthodontist reveals, Upper bonded retainer failures are a frequent problem.
Unfortunately, a simple crack in ignored retainers can lead to consequences later. Cracked retainers, if not mended at the right time, will not only give you discomfort but also create crevices that would be a mammoth task to clean.
In this blog, you will learn such nuances of cracked retainers and find out how to fix a cracked retainer. We will also cover the signs, options, and what to do if it breaks permanently. Let’s dive in.
- 1 What Are Retainers?
- 2 What Leads Retainers To Crack?
- 3 How To Recognize Cracks In A Retainer?
- 4 How To Fix A Cracked Retainer
- 5 What Not To Do With A Cracked Retainer?
- 6 How To Prevent Cracks In Retainers?
- 7 Know Your Options
- 8 Conclusion
What Are Retainers?
Retainers are custom-made dental devices you wear over your teeth. It helps maintain your teeth’ position after removing your braces or Invisalign. Retainers are made from various materials, which can include acrylic and wire. These are then typically worn on either the upper or lower teeth or both.
What Do Retainers Do For Your Teeth?
Despite a year-long brace or Invisalign treatment, your teeth would still be prone to move from their new positions. Remember that your gums, bones, and muscles would still need time to adjust to the new settlements.
Amid this, going back to habitual practices like:
– Chewing gum
– Applying force while eating,
will exert pressure on your teeth and move them.
Sadly, these new movements in your teeth can even lead to malocclusion. This means that the upper and lower sets of teeth refuse to align when you close your mouth.
This is where retainers are needed. They help keep the teeth’s position intact and make sure there’s no movement. In other words, while braces help straighten your teeth, retainers will help teeth ‘retain’ that way.
Even research by the American Journal of Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics supports this. It explores how retainers help reduce the movement of anchor teeth.
What Leads Retainers To Crack?
- Loose retainers
When you wash your retainers with boiling water, they may start losing their shape. This can lead retainers to go wide and unfitting. And when that happens, your retainers can no longer keep your teeth in place.
- It doesn’t fit any longer
Retainers, anyway go through a lot of wear and tear over time. They come in contact with moisture, chemicals, etc. This again pushes retainers towards misshaping. Also, if you don’t wear your retainers often, your teeth will start moving, as mentioned above. In which case, it won’t place correctly when you try to wear them.
- Calcium buildup
Like braces, retainers also trap calcium in its fold. This calcium build can add to the wear and tear and finally lead to the distorted event fitting.
Apart from this, another major reason for retainers to develop cracks is the lack of resin. American Association of Orthodontists Journal states inadequate resin abrasion leads to retainer failure.
How To Recognize Cracks In A Retainer?
It’s not easy to identify whether or not a retainer is developing cracks or not. However, here are a few signs you should stay alert of.
- You notice soreness in your mouth or other injuries.
- Bite down on a very hard substance unexpectedly.
- Feel bite issues or other chewing concerns.
How To Fix A Cracked Retainer
The process of fixing a cracked retainer will depend on the following:
- How serious the damage looks
- Which part of the retainer bears the crack
- If it’s a wire retainer or plastic
These three elements will decide the time of treatment and the next course of action.
The fixing process takes a few minutes if it’s a wire retainer. If your wire is solid, but the composite has thinned or got disconnected, your orthodontist will put a new dental composite over the wire. And then connect it to your teeth.
Another case can be if it’s permanently cracked. Here your retainer will completely come off your teeth and the treatment here will need more time. Orthodontists might have to work from scratch to fix a cracked retainer since rebonding will need time.
How To Fix A Cracked Retainer When Made Of Plastic
Here’s what your orthodontist will do:
- Remove the plastic retainer with dental tools or drills.
- Take out the retainer and check the damage.
- Mend the cracks and check the fittings.
- Add reinforcement to retainers and prevent the crack from widening.
How To Fix A Cracked Retainer At Home
Fixing a cracked retainer is not possible at home. Whether minor or severe cracks, you need to consult your orthodontist to prevent the situation from getting worse. Until you start your treatment, follow these steps to mend your cracked retainers.
- Determine the condition of the retainers and locate the damage. Checked for chipped pieces in your mouth or sharp edges.
- Get an over-the-counter mouthguard. This will help protect the fixed retainers and prevent any further movement.
- Avoid any sort of hard foods or sports till you start your treatment.
- Rinse your mouth with salt water to heal cuts from cracked retainers.
What Not To Do With A Cracked Retainer?
If your retainer is broken into one or more pieces, remove it immediately, and don’t wear it until it’s repaired. Also, check if any of the functions are compromised, which means:
- Are retainers fitting tightly over your teeth?
- Are they rigid enough?
- If the answer to any of the above is a no, your retainer won’t work anyway and needs mending.
Secondly, NEVER apply glue to close the cracks, no matter how safe they are or bear dental adhesive tags. The chemical may not suit your gums and lead to severe infections.
Third, do not throw your retainers on cracking. Your orthodontist would need them to know the cause and nature of the crack in retainers and take further measures.
How To Prevent Cracks In Retainers?
Maintain Oral Hygiene
Retainers are highly prone to collect calcium and other debris. So make sure you are taking very good oral care and prevent retainers from smelling or breaking.
Remove Retainers In The Right Way
Learn the right way to remove retainers. Handling retainers roughly can ruin retainers’ shape or even break them. Use a one-one finger on each side when taking out retainers. This will prevent it from flexing or twisting.
Support Your Retainer When Cleaning
You will stress or exert force on retainers if you don’t give them support when cleaning. Hold the retainer on a towel or clean sheet and apply gentle pressure when brushing.
Bonus Cleaning Tips
- Don’t use alcohol-based mouthwash.
- Never store retainers in a napkin.
- Rinse under lukewarm water only. Never use boiling water.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Clean in a circular motion.
- If you find calcium buildup, soak the retainers in a denture.
Know Your Options
Jaws keep growing till you are in your mid-20s. Even if you get braces or Invisalign, you may need to wear a retainer to prevent bite issues. Here are a few options you can keep up your sleeve.
- If your retainer is in ruins and cannot be fixed, it’s better to get a new one. Talk to your orthodontist to get clarity on the cost.
- If you cannot reach your orthodontist immediately, ask them if they can check your previous record and provide a new one. However, this would be possible only if the retainers were not too old.
- You can wear a low-cost, removable retainer till you get your old ones repaired or replaced. This will help maintain the teeth’ shape and bite.
This blog answers the question of the hour: How to fix a cracked retainer? Hope it has helped you get a comprehensive view of fixing a cracked retainer, what causes them, and how to maintain retainers.
You have to invest a lot during braces treatment. It mustn’t go in vain just because of an ill-maintained, broken retainer. So as soon as you notice the first signs of a crack in retainers, rush to your orthodontist and get them repaired. The sooner you fill the cracks, the sooner you will get perfectly healthy teeth.
How to Repair a Cracked Retainer: Expert Guidance & Tips