Permanent retainers are permanent, but it doesn’t mean that they are invincible. They can break, but when they do, it’s a big deal. Why? Because they are expensive, and they can halt the progress you have made with your teeth. Retainers are essential to keep your teeth in their new place after orthodontic treatment. There are several reasons why permanent retainers broke up. Some of them are-

  • The dental composite, which keeps the retainer in place, goes thinner and eventually becomes debonded from the retainer wire.
  • A sports injury in the mouth
  • Biting down on very hard foods
  • Lower enamel quality for dental bonding.
  • Filing or crowning on front teeth.

Permanent retainers have a long life if you don’t indulge in any of the above situations.   

Is A Broken Teeth Retainer An Emergency?

It depends on how the permanent retainer broke. If the wire has been debonded and not broken, or your dental composite has shifted a bit, you don’t need to immediately rush to the dental clinic.

If it is something that isn’t going to hurt your teeth or tongue, you can wait until your appointment. If it’s a weekend, you can definitely wait until Monday in such situations. However, if the wire is broken and is troubling your teeth or tongue, better get the latest appointment.

Your tongue travels to the unwanted change in your mouth, and you may injure it. Plus, it is not wise to wear the broken retainer, or your teeth will start shifting. Not wearing permanent retainers for weeks can be unfavorable to your orthodontic treatment progress.  

How Long Does A Permanent Retainer Last?

If you are careful and follow all the related rules, a permanent retainer lasts for almost ten years or even more. But most people don’t need to wear them for such a long time. You may need them for a year or two, or maybe a lifetime.

They last until they are broken. They are metal wires and fixed at the back of your teeth with dental composite, which is used for fixing cavities. It is strong. It cannot be broken by day-to-day eating and chewing. After a few years, they may get weaker and break. A repair is also possible, and it costs far less than a replacement.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Permanent Retainer?

If your permanent retainer broke, they are not always salvageable. There are certain conditions only when a permanent retainer can be fixed. If your enamel is weak and the composite gets detached from the tooth, the dentist can save the wire and reattach the retainer. It is a simple process, but the cost depends on how many teeth need to be rebounded. The cost of fixing dental composite is $30-$100.

But if a wire is broken, then it is removed entirely. It is a costlier choice as the retainer will be replaced entirely. It will cost around $200-$500. It is also time-consuming as a new retainer needs to be made. However, some clinics offer free repairs or the cost of retainers for a while. If your permanent retainer broke and you are not in the vicinity of your dentist, you can go to any orthodontist available near you and get your retainer fixed.

How Can I Temporarily Fix A Permanent Retainer?

Thinking practically, you cannot rush to the orthodontist as and when your retainer breaks. It can be midnight, a holiday, you can be out of town, or several other similar situations. You can always try to fix your permanent retainer temporarily until you visit your doctor.

Follow these steps to deal with your broken retainers-

  • Get your teeth examined by a person you can trust. A friend or family member. It will help you understand the problem with your retainer and ascertain if you can use it or the wire is broken.
  • Get a mouthguard until you visit the doctor. It will save you from any injury.
  • If your wire is broken, use a pencil eraser and push the wire towards the teeth to minimize the damage it can cause.

Until you visit your dentist, avoid hard foods, sports activity, or any activity that can harm your teeth or retainer anymore.    

Will My Teeth Move If I Remove My Permanent Retainer?

Generally, when your permanent retainer breaks, and you visit the dentist, they give you a fresh pair of retainers. It’s best to start using them as soon as you can. If you leave them for more than a week or a few weeks, your teeth will start shifting to their former positions.

It’s advised that you wear your removable retainers until your new permanent retainers arrive. If you don’t have one, try to get your pair back as soon as possible.

Final Words

After your Invisalign or braces have been removed, permanent retainers play a major role in keeping your teeth in place. If you break them, visit your orthodontist at the earliest and get them fixed or replaced. They are costly, so you must take great care of your permanent retainers.


Published by Dr. Daniel Bronsky

Dr. Daniel is an orthodontist at Invis London.

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