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Orthodontic retainers are custom-made devices that hold teeth in position after braces or any method of realigning teeth. This week, Dr. Ron Maddox, an orthodontist at Smile Generation-approved office Crossroads Dental Group in Upland, CA, answers a question about retainers.

Sean O sent us the following message:

"Hello just seeking some advice here. So I have had my braces off for about 6 months and I had my retainer and I wore it every night. I went to my orthodontist recently after I got my braces off to get checked and I tried my retainer on there and the assistant looked at me and even if looked like my retainer was still snug and fit right, she said she would make me a new one and so she did but I saved my old retainer just in case. So I was wearing my new retainer every night and then I noticed it was lose I took it out and found a crack in it and I was like ready to cry because it’s a lot of money to get a new one made and then I remembered that I saved my old one.

I was skeptical about wearing my old one and I continued to wear the new one because the crack was really tiny and it still put pressure on my top two front teeth which I find are the two that move the most. So I have been wearing it for a while and in fact I am still wearing the new one at the moment right now the one with the crack in it.

Right now I am at a sleep over camp and I noticed the crack got bigger and now I am really worried about my teeth and I was wondering if it would be okay to switch back to my old original retainer that I saved. I tried it on a couple of days ago and it was really tight and painful on my front teeth so obviously they shifted a little bit and I am willing to wear the retainer since I only wear it at night and deal with the pain to keep my straight teeth. I was wondering if by wearing my old retainer would it harm teeth. Is it okay to wear it?"

Here is Dr. Maddox’s reply:

"Great question Sean!

Many patients have asked me about this issue over the years.

Since your orthodontist decided to fabricate a new retainer, I would not recommend wearing your “old original” retainer. Your doctor must have noticed some changes that required a new retainer & that is most likely the reason that the original retainer is really tight & painful. You were right to be skeptical! The best plan is to keep wearing your new retainer & schedule an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as you return from camp to allow them to check your retainer & see if it can be repaired to prevent the crack from getting any worse.

You & your family have invested a great deal of time & resources to help create a beautiful smile—you are very smart to make sure your retainer fits properly.

I hope that you had a fun time at camp & that you will call your orthodontist as soon as you return.

Keep on Smiling!

Dr. M"


Dr. Ron Maddox has been practicing dentistry for over 22 years. He is a practicing orthodontist at Crossroads Dental Group, a Smile Generation-approved office, in Upland, CA. He also enjoys surfing, golf, music and photography.