Lost Retainer

Lost Retainer: Tips for a Common Mistake

Lost Retainer? Again? If you feel like you are constantly misplacing one of the most important parts of their orthodontic treatment, you’re not alone! Dealing with a lost retainer can be frustrating for patients and their families. Retainers are a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment, but they need to be worn as much as possible to be effective. So, every day with a lost retainer is a day that your orthodontic treatment isn’t working to its potential. And if you have to replace a lost retainer, it come with a hefty bill. Before you spend days without your retainer, or spend many dollars replacing your lost retainer, here are some things you can do to try to find it fast.

Steps to Find Your Lost Retainer

The most successful way to find your lost retainer is to retrace your steps. Here are some great tips that may lead you right to the lost retainer you’ve been searching for:

  1. Clear your mind and think! Don’t panic. Don’t go running around in a fury looking for your lost item. Sit down and take some time to think. Mentally recreate the scene of the day you lost your retainer. Where were you? Who were you with? What were you doing? When you retrace your steps, you may remember a strange place you put your retainer before it got lost. Maybe you wrapped it in a napkin while you were eating. Maybe the napkin ended up in the trash. When you gather your thoughts, you can sometimes remember exactly where the last place you had your retainer was and work from there.
  2. Stay calm. When you stress, lots of changes happen to your body. Intense emotions can actually lead to a lapse in judgment and effect your memory. This can keep you distracted from being able to successfully find what you’re looking for. If panic sets in, take some deep breaths. Sit in a quiet place and collect your thoughts before you go back to your search.
  3. Look everywhere. Many patients come in with stories of the places they found their lost retainer. These stories would amaze you! Look in unexpected places. The bathroom, under your bed, in your backpack, even in your nightstand. Take each room as the location of a crime scene. Analyze the entire room carefully. When you take a systematic approach, you avoid throwing things all over the place in a fury. Acting in this way can cause you to look right past what’s right in front of your eyes.
  4. Ask around. Even if you are afraid to tell your parents that you lost your retainer for the millionth time, ask anyways. And don’t be embarrassed to ask friends or roommates either. It’s a better alternative to causing problems with your orthodontic treatment.
  5. Speaking of asking. Ask people you know to aid in the search for your lost retainer. Sometimes it takes someone who isn’t so worried about it to find it. Their clear mind might help you look in places you overlooked.

Prevent the Problem

Now that you’ve found the most effective ways to find your lost retainer, how about some tips on prevention. When you prevent yourself from losing it in the first place, you ease a lot of tension. The best ways to prevent yourself from losing you retainer are:

  • Wear your retainer as directed. If your retainer is in your mouth, you ditch the risk associated with losing it. This is especially important in the beginning as you get used to your new treatment. Your retainer should only be remove to eat, brush your teeth, and play sports. Otherwise, it should be worn exactly as directed.
  • Follow a consistent pattern. Place your retainer in the same spot every time you take it out. Keep it somewhere that is convenient to you. Make sure it stays out of reach of children and pets.
  • Avoid wrapping it in napkins or paper towels. Some patients choose to wrap their retainer in a napkin when they are eating at a restaurant or in the cafeteria at school. This is probably the easiest way to lose your retainer. Most patients inadvertently end up throwing it away. If you are embarrassed about taking your retainer out in public, get a case. This allows you to store it discreetly and keep track of it.

Most patients who undergo orthodontic treatment have to deal with a lost retainer at some point. If you have misplaced your retainer, don’t panic. There are many strategies to find it. There are also many ways to prevent losing your retainer. Once you find the most effective ones for you, you’ll get in a routine that works. Talk to your orthodontist about the best way to care for your retainer and make sure your orthodontic treatment stays on the right track.