Retainer Repair 101: Can You Safely Sleep with a Broken One?
Oral Health Blog

Retainer Repair 101: Can You Safely Sleep with a Broken One?


A broken retainer can be an unexpected hiccup in your orthodontic journey, leaving you wondering how it might affect your sleep. In this article, we'll address the question of whether you should sleep with a broken retainer and provide guidance on what to do when faced with this common orthodontic dilemma.

1. Understanding Retainer Types

Before diving into whether you should sleep with a broken retainer, it's important to understand the two main types of retainers: removable and permanent.

  • Removable Retainers: These are typically made of plastic or acrylic and can be taken out of your mouth. They are commonly worn at night to maintain the position of your teeth after orthodontic treatment.

  • Permanent Retainers: These are thin wires bonded to the back of your teeth, usually on the lower front teeth. They are designed to stay in place long-term and require specific care.

2. Risks of Sleeping with a Broken Retainer

Whether your retainer is removable or permanent, sleeping with a broken retainer can have several drawbacks:

  • Teeth Misalignment: Broken retainers may not provide the necessary pressure to keep your teeth in their corrected positions. This can lead to gradual teeth misalignment over time.

  • Discomfort: Broken retainers can have sharp edges or rough surfaces that may cause discomfort or irritation to your tongue, cheeks, or the roof of your mouth during sleep.

  • Oral Health Concerns: Incomplete coverage by a broken retainer may allow food particles and plaque to accumulate, increasing the risk of dental issues such as cavities and gum problems.

3. What to Do if Your Retainer Breaks

If you find yourself with a broken retainer, follow these steps:

  • Inspect the Damage: Assess the extent of the damage. If it's a minor issue like a small crack, it may still be functional. If it's more severe, consider not wearing it until it's repaired or replaced.

  • Contact Your Orthodontist: Reach out to your orthodontist or dentist as soon as possible. They can evaluate the damage and advise you on the best course of action.

  • Temporary Measures: If you have a removable retainer with minor damage, your orthodontist may provide guidance on how to continue wearing it temporarily until repairs can be made.

  • Avoid DIY Fixes: While it might be tempting to attempt DIY repairs, it's best to leave retainer fixes to the professionals. DIY solutions can worsen the damage or introduce harmful materials into your mouth.

4. Preventive Measures

To minimize the risk of a broken retainer disrupting your sleep, consider the following preventive measures:

  • Proper Care: Handle your retainer with care, clean it as instructed by your orthodontist, and store it in its case when not in use.

  • Regular Checkups: Attend regular checkup appointments with your orthodontist to ensure your retainer is in good condition.

  • Follow Guidelines: Adhere to your orthodontist's guidelines for wearing and maintaining your retainer.


In most cases, it's not advisable to sleep with a broken retainer due to potential risks like teeth misalignment, discomfort, and oral health concerns. Instead, reach out to your orthodontist promptly for an evaluation and guidance on how to proceed. Remember that proper care and regular checkups are key to preventing retainer issues and ensuring a good night's sleep.

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The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making any changes to your health regimen. The author and publisher do not take responsibility for any consequences resulting from the information provided in this article.