Retainer Rescue: How to Handle a Broken Permanent Retainer
Oral Health Blog

Retainer Rescue: How to Handle a Broken Permanent Retainer


A permanent retainer, often called a bonded or fixed retainer, is a wire that is attached to the back of your teeth to maintain the alignment achieved through orthodontic treatment. While permanent retainers are durable, they can break or become damaged over time. If you're dealing with a broken permanent retainer, you may wonder how urgent the situation is and what steps you should take. In this article, we'll explore the urgency of a broken permanent retainer and provide guidance on what to do if it happens.

1. Assess the Severity of the Break

The first step in understanding the urgency of a broken permanent retainer is to assess the severity of the break. Not all breaks are equal, and the impact on your orthodontic results can vary. Here are two common scenarios:

  • Partial Break: If only a part of the retainer wire is broken or loose, the urgency is relatively lower. However, it's essential to address this issue promptly to prevent further damage and ensure your teeth remain in their desired positions.

  • Complete Break: A complete break, where the retainer wire comes entirely detached from one or more teeth, is a more urgent situation. This requires immediate attention to prevent your teeth from shifting.

2. Contact Your Orthodontist

Regardless of the severity of the break, it's crucial to contact your orthodontist as soon as possible. They will provide specific guidance based on your unique situation. Keep in mind that permanent retainers are designed to be a long-term solution, so addressing any issues promptly is essential to maintaining your smile's alignment.

3. Temporary Solutions

While waiting for guidance from your orthodontist, there are some temporary solutions you can consider:

  • Maintain Oral Hygiene: Continue to practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. Pay extra attention to cleaning around the broken retainer area to prevent plaque buildup.

  • Avoid Hard or Sticky Foods: Be mindful of your diet and avoid consuming hard or sticky foods that could exert pressure on the broken retainer or cause further damage.

  • Wear Removable Retainers (if available): If you were provided with removable retainers in addition to your permanent one, wearing them as instructed can help maintain your tooth alignment.

4. Preventing Breaks

Preventing breaks in your permanent retainer is essential to minimize the chances of encountering this issue. Here are some preventive measures:

  • Avoid Biting Hard Objects: Refrain from biting hard objects, like pens or ice, as this can place unnecessary stress on your retainer.

  • Oral Health Maintenance: Regularly visit your dentist for check-ups and professional cleanings to ensure your oral health and the condition of your retainer.

  • Use a Mouthguard (if necessary): If you participate in contact sports or grind your teeth at night, consider using a mouthguard to protect both your teeth and your retainer.


A broken permanent retainer is a situation that requires attention, and its urgency depends on the severity of the break. Contacting your orthodontist promptly is essential to address the issue and prevent unwanted tooth movement. In the meantime, practice good oral hygiene, avoid problematic foods, and consider wearing any removable retainers if provided.

Remember, permanent retainers are designed to help you maintain your beautiful smile, and addressing issues like a break quickly will ensure they continue to serve their purpose effectively.

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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.