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I Lost My Retainer! How to Get a New One and Keep My Teeth Straight

Natalie Asmussen
Natalie Asmussen
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Karen Kemp-Prosterman
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I lost my retainer” is a situation experienced by many of those who formerly wore braces. Don't fret! If you have lost your retainer, you have a couple of options. You can call your orthodontist to order a new one, or you can order a custom teeth retainer online.

What if you lost your retainer a few months ago, or even a few years ago?

In this article, you'll learn all about:

We hope this information helps you figure out what to do after your orthodontics treatment. But whether you order a custom retainer online, or you get one from your dentist, the important thing is to begin wearing your personalized retainer again as soon as possible.

If you're short on time and ready to order your new retainers now online, you can do so with Sporting Smiles. They offer affordable, custom-made retainers. Use code SMILE10 to get 10% off your Sporting Smiles order.

What to do if you lose your retainer

I lost my retainer — what do I do?

If you lost your retainer, you should get a new one. Here are your options:

• Contact the orthodontist from whom you originally got your retainer
• Contact a new orthodontist if you've moved
• Order a custom retainer online

If you lose your retainer, you should get a new retainer. Ideally, that means going to the orthodontist who supervised your treatment with braces. They will inspect your teeth to assess the damage and order new custom retainers for you.

Not everyone has time to get in to see the orthodontist, or maybe you've moved to a different state or country. If that's the case, you can order custom-made retainers online from a company like Sporting Smiles.

I lost my retainer what do i do
Order a new retainer online

They make it easy to replace your lost retainer. All you have to do is order an impression kit to make molds of your teeth at home and send the impressions in so your retainers can be made by professionally trained lab technicians.

Sporting Smiles offers a variety of packages and types of retainers, so you can choose the one that's best for your lifestyle and budget. Use discount code SMILE10 to get 10% off your order.

You can also check out the video below by Dr. Greg Asatrian. Skip ahead to minute 4 to hear about him talking about lost retainers. He says it best: “Your retainer should either be in your face or in your case.”

Keeping your teeth straight with a retainer

What to do if you lost your Invisalign retainer

If you lose your Invisalign retainer, call the dentist or orthodontist with whom you did Invisalign treatment. They can help you order a new Vivera retainer as soon as possible.

Of course, if you lost your retainer, you don't have to use an Invisalign retainer after Invisalign treatment. You can use any type of Essix retainer, including those made by Sporting Smiles, and it will probably be a lot cheaper.

How long can you go without wearing your retainer?

If you lose your retainer for a few days, you won't encounter many problems. You may even be able to go without your retainer for a week or two. However, any longer and it will hurt to put it back in. If this happens, you should not wear it. Instead, you should order a new one because your teeth have shifted.

Have a look at the table below for a preview of what can happen when you go without your retainer for too long.

Time lapsed


1 week

  • Minor teeth shifting

  • Small gaps and slight tooth rotation

  • Retainer might still fit

1 month

  • Moderate teeth shifting

  • Bite problems, like overbite or underbite begin to relapse

  • Retainer won't fit

1 year +

  • Teeth crowd and may collapse inward

  • Bite problems can become serious

  • Braces may be needed again

I lost my retainer — now what?

So, you lost your retainer. What's the big deal?

Actually, it could end up being a pretty big deal if you go too long without your retainer. That's because retainers do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to keeping your teeth straight.

what to do if i lost my retainer
What to do if you lost your retainer

Many of us assume that once we get our braces off, there's no more work to be done. However, your teeth became very accustomed to the position they held until you had braces, and they'll be quite eager to shift back without a retainer.

That means that once you get your braces off, if there's nothing to hold your teeth in place, they'll slowly move back into an unaligned position.

For this reason, almost everybody has to wear a retainer after braces for the rest of their lives. Thankfully, retainers usually only need to be worn during the night — although during the first couple of weeks after getting your braces off, your orthodontist may also recommend that you wear them during the day.

Despite the importance of wearing a retainer, one study found that the compliance rate of wearing retainers every night after 24 months fell to just 45%. Another study found that the ease with which retainers could be lost was one of the main reasons for a patient's non-compliance with retainer wear.

What happens if I lose my retainer?

Depending on how long ago you lost your retainer, there are a few things that could happen. One of the things we mentioned above is that your teeth can shift back into a crooked position.

i lost my retainer and my teeth are shifting
You must wear your retainer to keep your teeth straight

They won't go back to the exact original position they started in, per se, but teeth are dynamic and they constantly want to move. They might flare out, they might overlap, they might arch.

To add to that, your gums and teeth are more flexible right after long-term orthodontic treatment, and because the brackets and wires of braces are no longer holding your teeth in place, your teeth will move. After a year of not wearing a retainer, old malocclusion problems may return, and you may need orthodontic treatment again

After orthodontic treatment, it is common for relapse to occur due to: soft tissue and muscle pressure, the presence of 3rd molars, recoil of periodontal ligaments and gingival fibers, skeletal changes during the aging process, and occlusal factors. You can read more about what happens to severely misaligned teeth in our full guide to malocclusion.

You can also read more about not wearing a retainer for a month and what happens.

I lost my retainer and my teeth are shifting

During the first few days, weeks, and even months of not wearing your retainer, you may not notice any visible difference in your teeth. But that doesn't mean there haven't been any changes. Those changes slowly add up so that after a year or two goes by, you might suddenly notice that you have crooked teeth again.

You might also be able to feel your teeth shifting, and as they do, you could encounter problems along your gumline. You might notice your bite is misaligned.

It's important to keep your teeth aligned, not just for aesthetics but also for your oral and overall health. Start wearing a retainer again as soon as possible.

The problem is, if your teeth have shifted too much, your old retainer (if you do find it) won't fit anymore, so you'll need to get a new one. If your teeth have shifted to the point where they are noticeably misaligned, you may need to undergo orthodontic treatment again.

I lost my retainer and can't afford a new one

Traditional retainers from your orthodontist – the type you typically get after braces – are called Hawley retainers. These have an acrylic plate that goes along the roof of your mouth and a metal band that goes across your top teeth.

These can cost up to $300 at the orthodontist. Plus you need to go to the orthodontist again and get molds of your teeth taken so they can order you a new one. This will take multiple visits. The good thing about Hawley retainers is that they can be adjusted if needed. This is especially handy if you need additional dental treatment later on, like fillings or dental crowns.

However, if you're looking for maximum convenience, there's a way to order new retainers if you've lost yours. Companies like Sporting Smiles make it fast and convenient to purchase clear, Essix retainers online.

what to do if you lost your tretainer
You can choose from different sets

All you have to do is order an impression kit, make impressions of your teeth at home, and then send them in so that professionally-trained lab techs make your custom retainers. They will then send them back to you so you can start wearing them.

There are various price options for Sporting Smiles retainers:

  • Essix Plus (Set of 2): $130
  • Essix Plus (Single): $90
  • Essix (Set of 2): $110
  • Essix (Single): $85

While the cheapest option is to order a single retainer, you may want to go with a set of 2, just in case you think you might be in this situation again sometime in the future. While you're at it, you can use code SMILE10 to get 10% off your Sporting Smiles order.

Another option is to go with Sentinel retainers. They also offer clear Essix retainers that are custom-made and that you can order online.

The main difference between Sentinel and Sporting Smile retainers is that the two brands offer different pack options. Sentinel retainers have scalloped, or contoured edges, that go along the gumline, whereas Sporting Smiles retainers are cut straight across.

Neither is necessarily more effective than the other when it comes to retainers — there is no evidence that one appliance works better than another — it's just about personal preference. If you'd like to get retainers with a contoured edge, you may want to consider ordering Sentinel.

Tips for not losing your retainer

Let's face it — retainers are small, transparent pieces of plastic — emphasis on transparent. That means that for the more free-spirited of us, they can be quite easy to lose track of. So here are some tips that you can use to make sure you don't lose your retainer (again).

Store them in their case

Chances are your retainer came with a case. Not only do retainer cases serve a hygienic purpose, but they also make your retainers easier to keep track of.

If you have a choice of colors, instead of opting for a neutral color, you may want to get a brightly colored case that's even easier to spot when you're frantically searching underneath those couch cushions.

Keep track of my retainer
Keep track of your retainer with a fun case

These cases are made for mouth guards, but they will fit your retainer too, and not only are they made in fun colors, but they also have clips on them for added anti-loss security.

Or, if you're all about looking good (and that means your retainer too) customers rave about these QUIST retainer cases, which come in various colorful marble effect designs, are extremely durable, have hidden ventilation holes, and come with labels!

Be mindful after lunchtime

Whether at the office, in school, or at home, it's easy to get caught up in that rush to get lunch. Obviously, you have to take your retainer out to eat, and many people wrap their retainers in a napkin when they do so.

Unfortunately, a retainer wrapped in a napkin just so happens to look a lot like trash.

To avoid tossing your retainer in the garbage after lunch, create the habit of placing it in its case as soon as you take it out and placing the case in your purse or pocket.

Protect from pets

To your dog, a retainer looks a lot like their favorite chew toy, and to a cat, it may seem like some sort of deformed mouse. Either way, keep it out of reach from your pets. That means avoiding placing them on countertops as well because if it's sitting there, your cat can and will knock it off.

Once your pet gets a hold of your retainer, they can easily damage it, and you shouldn't try to use it again if it gets damaged. So it might as well be as good as lost and get a new retainer.


Unless you're highly organized, chances are you're going to lose your retainer sometime or another. If you do lose your retainer, don't worry, it happens to the best of us. However, it's critical that you get a replacement retainer ASAP.

The longer you go without wearing your retainer, the more likely it is that your teeth will become misaligned again, and you may even need to repeat orthodontic treatment- something no one wants.

If you lose your retainer, call your orthodontist so you can schedule an appointment to get a new one, or order custom-made retainers online from a trusted company like Sporting Smiles or Sentinel. Use promo code SMILE10 to get 10% off your order.

Also once you do have a new retainer, it's essential to keep it clean. We recommend using a specialized retainer cleaner like this one from cariPRO.


I lost my retainer. How fast will my teeth move?

Technically, your teeth can start moving as soon as you remove your retainer. But if you only lose your retainer for a few days or a week, it will most likely still fit.

After a few weeks, you will notice more major shifts, and after a few months, you may begin to think about needing to redo some of your orthodontic treatment.

If you're wondering what to do if you lost your retainer, the answer is straightforward — contact your orthodontist or order a new one online.

What to do if you lost your retainer during quarantine?

If you lose your retainer during self-quarantine, you can call your orthodontist to ask them for advice. You can also order custom-made retainers from an online supplier.

Sporting Smiles lets you order custom retainers online from the comfort of your home.

I lost my retainer. What can I use instead?

Don't try to use anything as a retainer that isn't meant for that purpose. You should only use a retainer that has been custom-made to fit your teeth. Using anything else will likely cause damage.

I lost my retainer — what should I do in the meantime?

If you lost your retainer, in the meantime you should make an appointment with your orthodontist to get a new one. You can also order a custom-made retainer online.

I lost my retainer — how do I keep my teeth straight?

If you lost your retainer, there's no way to guarantee that your teeth will stay straight. They will move and may become crooked again. Thus, it's essential that you get a new retainer ASAP.

I Lost My Retainer! How to Get a New One and Keep My Teeth Straight
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European Journal of Orthodontics: Cost-effectiveness and patient satisfaction: Hawley and vacuum-formed retainers. Consulted 24th April 2023.

American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics: Retainer wear and compliance in the first 2 years after active orthodontic treatment. Consulted 24th April 2023.

AAO: Will I need to wear retainers after treatment? Consulted 24th April 2023.

Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice: Orthodontic Retainers: A Contemporary Overview. Consulted 24th April 2023.