And I thought I'd left braces back in high school...
June 9, 2009 4:25 AM   Subscribe

I lost my retainer and my orthodontist doesn't have the records to make me a replacement.

I got my braces off about 4 years ago, and was given a retainer like this to wear on my upper teeth of a night.
Fast forward to 2009 and occasionally I'd still wear it when things were feeling a little 'out' - my teeth haven't really moved at all, but anyone who's had braces knows the 'tight' feeling you get when you pop your retainer in overnight again (enough money was spent on the process, so I might as well use it!)

I moved house recently and have absolutely no idea where the retainer is, it's gone. I called my orthondontist (I have since moved to the other side of the country) who informed me that they didn't keep my final moulds, just a photograph, so they can't make me a replacement. Great.

So what are my options? I know I can get a dentist to take current moulds and make me a new one, but that defeats the purpose of getting that post-braces straightness back. Are they able to alter the moulds a little? Push everything back a millimetre or two? Or is there something I can do (sleep with my palm pushed against my mouth??).

Again no teeth has visibly moved, but my main beef is with my front right tooth. It was the main offender whilst having braces so if I go a couple of months without wearing the retainer at least once it feels as if it'd shifted forwards ever so slightly.

FWIW I live in Melbourne, Australia.

posted by sunshine arakhan to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When I got my braces off, the orthondontist epoxied a permanent retainer onto the back of my front teeth (uppers and lowers). It's worked well for the last 9 years, although it is kind of a bitch to clean around. Maybe you could ask about one of those? I went a long time without my removable retainer, and it no longer fits, but my teeth are still straight.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:08 AM on June 9, 2009

Just get a new one made by the dentist. If your teeth haven't moved that much since you've been good about wearing your lost retainer, the new one will be close enough.

You're over-thinking it.

I'd recommend against getting glued on retainers b/c of the ease of cleaning issues. I had a bottom one glued on after my braces were removed and it fell off this spring after staying on for 10 years. My gums are definitely healthier.

If you have real concerns about a snaggletooth or whatnot, check out if they have something similar to Invisalign in Australia. If you're not familiar with it, you wear a series of thin clear plastic retainers that are changed over time to force your teeth into a specific alignment. The benefit over regular braces is that you don't have to get anything glued to your teeth. The downside is that they can't fix as many kinds of problems and they take longer. I haven't had them, but some friends of mine have.

Go see a dentist. It's likely that your teeth are much straighter than you think. I know it can be hard to have perspective about things like this.
posted by reddot at 6:48 AM on June 9, 2009

don't get a permanent retainer unless you enjoy cutting your tongue sporadically and like your teeth rotting in those new, non-flossable areas. I had a permanent for 14 years ... just got it off 3 weeks ago and switched to a removable retainer that I only wear at night. Can't recommend it enough. Cost was only $125 (insurance didn't cover it.) YMMV.
posted by Happydaz at 8:48 AM on June 9, 2009

Teeth are not rigidly in place in your mouth, they are supported by a ligament that allows some movement (so you don't feel every bite throughout your entire skull), and this is why your teeth can and will shift throughout your life. If the teeth on either side of your trouble front right tooth have not squeezed in and reduced the space needed to get it back where you want it, a new retainer can be made, sometimes with a little spring or wire to nudge the tooth where it needs to go. Invisalign also works under a similar principle.
See your new dentist and ask if he can do this or recommend a new orthodontist to do it for you.
ask your new dentist to keep your models, so in case you lose your retainer in the future you will have a record of the ideal position.
IAAD, but NYO.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:22 AM on June 10, 2009

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