A lost or broken orthodontic retainer is a problem that needs prompt action. This is especially important during the first year after braces are removed. For the first 10 to 12 months the bone around the teeth is getting stronger.
First thing to do is call your orthodontist and let them know there is a problem. If the retainer is not found or if it is broken, the orthodontist will need a new impression (mold of the teeth) to make a replacement. The replacement may take up to two weeks to have made.
There is no insurance for lost retainers. The cost can vary from $100 each to more than $300 each depending on the type of retainer and the orthodontist fees.
If your teeth have already shifted, a treatment retainer may do the job to return you to your best smile. A treatment retainer takes several ongoing adjustments by the orthodontist to move teeth back into place. It must be worn all the time to be effective. The cost will also be greater than a passive retainer.
Teeth move through bone with braces, aligners or retainers now the same way they did 75 years ago. Braces use the teeth to transmit the message to the cells of the bone to change position. This is a normal physiologic process that goes on for your entire life. Bones change in response to the stimuli of life.
If you lift weights every day for an extra hour, the muscle in your arms will make the bones underneath bigger and more dense. If you do no exercise, the bones get smaller and more frail.
The teeth do not know or care what brand of braces, aligners or retainers are pushing on them. They react like mother nature instructs them. Moving bone out of the way where there is pressure and building new bone where there is tension. This allows the tooth to move through the bone and get straighter. There is no medicine you can take, exercise you can do or yoga position to increase the physiology of teeth moving through bone. braces that are self-ligating (have little doors or clips that attach the arch wire) are no speedier than traditional braces.
The only way to move teeth faster is with trauma, or surgery (the same as trauma). There are surgeries that can be done to increase the speed at which teeth move with braces. Usually the surgery costs more than the braces and comes with it’s own risks.
There are things that can slow down the speed teeth move with braces. Greater friction of the braces with the wire will cause the speed of treatment to be decreased, sometimes even stop. Orthodontic specialists have been trained to bypass this and many other treatment issues.
Braces do not need to be so expensive. The secret for having a winning smile without paying the big bucks is . . . START EARLY! If you wait till your child is 14 or 15 years of age, braces will cost $6000.00, or more.
Starting early, at age 7 gives the orthodontist time to do the preventive and interceptive care that can reduce or eliminate much of the expensive care needed. Uncomplicated care like having a baby tooth removed early can significantly reduce the problems from crowding, impaction (stuck teeth) or teeth growing in the wrong place.
Interceptive treatment like palate expansion can prevent impaction of eye teeth. Moving protruded front teeth back into the mouth can prevent them from being broken in an accident.
DO NOT WAIT for your dentist to make a recommendation for your child to see the orthodontist. Be pro-active! Ask your dentist or friends for the name of a qualified orthodontist near you. If you have an insurance that requires a formal referral document, ask your dentist to provide it. If the dentist declines, call the insurance company and ask for a referral to a contracted provider. The focus of the dentist is often on other dental concerns.
You are your child’s best advocate.