I have a clear retainer for my upper teeth, but it's very worn. My ortho said that's ok when I went in for the follow up appointment a few months after the braces were removed. I had it replaced once 6 years ago, it was so tight and uncomfortable that it's cracked and hole-y again. I can feel that my top teeth have moved a lot compared to my bottom teeth (that have the metal retainer). I don't currently have dental insurance, is this something my orthodontist would still talk about with me?
Ortho Said Clear Retainer is Still Ok if It's Cracked, Is this True?
Doctor Answers (4)
Time to replace that cracked 6 year old clear retainer
Clear retainers are effective at keeping the teeth straight and patients seem to do a better job wearing them than traditional Hawley retainers. Clear retainers typically last about a year, so it's important to have a back up plan. Invisalign now offers the so called Vivera retainers, which gives you get a series of 4 clear retainers per arch. Expect to invest in keeping your teeth straight after the braces are removed. Orthodontic retention requires a lifetime committment, but retainers do not last a lifetime.
Retainers are very Important
A clear retainer is commonly known as an Essex retainer in the profession. Theny tend to wear out and stretch more quickly than traditional acrylic ones. Bonded retainers which are invisible from the front but are essentially wires affixed to the inside surface of your teeth are very good as wel. Sometimes we use them in combination. A cracked or old retainer should usually be replaced. If a retainer doesn't fit tight (ie there is wiggle room) then the teeth will start to shift. Ideally you would have a good acrylic retainer and replace it every 3-5 years. Clear retainers are good for at best 1 year in my opinion,
clear retainers just don't last as well as the traditional colored plastic and wire ones. Even if they are not cracked they can stretch and fail to keep the teeth straight. We tell our patients that they are only good for 12 months....after that they may or may not hold the teeth straight!
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It is certainly possible that a simple crack in a retainer may be innocuous. Small cracks may not affect the functionality of a retainer. The crack may never cause a problem or perhaps that weak spot may result in eventual fracture of the retainer; only time will tell. Only your orthodontist can determine if the crack would cause a problem with the retainers function; namely, holding your teeth in position.