When Your Retainer Breaks: How Fast Can Teeth Move?
Oral Health Blog

When Your Retainer Breaks: How Fast Can Teeth Move?

Retainers are crucial for maintaining the results of orthodontic treatment. But what happens when they break? In this article, we'll explore the timeframe for teeth movement after a retainer break, common reasons for breakage, and what to do if you find yourself in this situation.

What is the Most Common Way Retainers Break?

  1. Accidental Damage: The most common reason retainers break is accidental damage. They can be easily damaged when dropped or mishandled.

  2. Chewing on the Retainer: Chewing on your retainer, whether out of habit or by accident, can cause it to break.

  3. Age and Wear: Over time, retainers can weaken and break due to normal wear and tear. The plastic or wires may become brittle.

Why Did My Retainer Break in My Sleep?

It can be frustrating to wake up and discover your retainer has broken while you were sleeping. Several reasons might contribute to this:

  • Grinding or Clenching: If you grind or clench your teeth at night, it can exert excessive force on the retainer, leading to breakage.

  • Brittle Materials: Retainers can become more brittle as they age. When subjected to nighttime pressure, they are more likely to crack or snap.

  • Poorly Fitted Retainer: If your retainer doesn't fit snugly, it can be more prone to breaking during sleep.

What is a Substitute for a Retainer?

While there is no perfect substitute for a retainer, there are some temporary measures you can take if yours breaks:

  • Contact Your Orthodontist: Reach out to your orthodontist as soon as possible. They can assess your situation and provide guidance on what to do next.

  • Retainer Case: If your retainer is partially broken but still somewhat intact, you can store it in a retainer case until you can see your orthodontist.

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Continue to practice good oral hygiene and avoid activities that may further shift your teeth.

Do Orthodontists Charge for Broken Retainers?

Orthodontic practices vary in their policies regarding broken retainers. Some may offer free or discounted repairs, especially if the breakage occurs shortly after your initial treatment. Others may charge a fee for repairs or replacements.

It's essential to clarify the cost of repairs or replacements with your orthodontist when you first receive your retainer so that you are aware of potential charges in the event of breakage.

Does Insurance Cover Broken Permanent Retainers?

Insurance coverage for broken permanent retainers can vary depending on your policy and provider. Some dental insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost, while others may not cover it at all. It's advisable to check with your insurance provider to understand your coverage and any associated costs.

Can You Get a New Retainer if Yours Breaks?

In most cases, you can get a new retainer if yours breaks. However, whether you will need a new one or a repair depends on the extent of the damage. Here's what you should do:

  1. Contact Your Orthodontist: Reach out to your orthodontist to discuss the breakage. They will assess the retainer's condition and recommend whether a repair or replacement is necessary.

  2. Follow Professional Advice: Follow your orthodontist's recommendations regarding repair or replacement. They will provide guidance based on your unique situation.

  3. Budget for Potential Costs: Be prepared for potential costs associated with repair or replacement. Some orthodontic practices may charge for these services.

Are you currently using or thinking about using retainer cleaning tablets? It's important to be aware that certain cleaner brands have the potential to cause toxic reactions.

It's crucial to be aware of harmful ingredients hiding in common cleaner brands. One such persulfate, which can pose SERIOUS health risks and is found in almost all leading retainer cleaners brands. Moreover, persulfate's health risks potentially impact respiratory health and skin sensitivities in your family, especially in teens and sensitive individuals. Learn more about the risk of persulfate HERE.


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.