The Dog Ate My Retainers

May 16, 2018

This is a true story. While cleaning house, the mom of a teenage boy, who had a set of removable retainers after recently getting his braces off, found an oddly mangled “something” on the steps leading to the home’s second floor. The item appeared to be made of plastic and wire, and something about the blob seemed familiar. The light bulb goes off, and mom realized the “something” was her son’s retainers. They had been left unattended in an area accessible by the family’s pet dog, Sydney. The dog chewed the boy’s retainers into a useless mass.

This happens with surprising frequency. The working theory is that dogs are attracted by the smell of the materials from which retainers are made, as well as saliva. With their powerful jaws, dogs can render retainers useless in no time. Retainers also meet an unfortunate demise when they are sat upon, stepped on, fall out of a purse or pocket, or are accidentally thrown away with a lunch tray or in a napkin. The game of “dumpster diving for retainers” is no one’s idea of fun.

Retainers are truly amazing little devices that help hold teeth in their new positions following “active” orthodontic treatment. Wearing them as prescribed by the orthodontist is the most reliable way to preserve the placement of teeth that the patient and doctor worked so hard to achieve. Replacing lost or damaged retainers carries a cost. But they should be replaced as soon as possible to prevent any unwanted movement of the teeth.

Be Careful with Retainers

There are two places for removable retainers: in the mouth or in their case. When taken out of the mouth, retainers should be placed in their case. When taken out of their case, the retainers should be placed in the mouth.

Do not wrap retainers in a napkin – they can easily be thrown away with the trash. Do not place retainers in your pocket unless they are in their protective case. Without the case, retainers that are loose in your pocket can be broken.

Contact your orthodontist immediately if your retainer is lost or broken, if it is not fitting properly, or if eaten by your dog. Remember – you need to wear your retainers, not your dog.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is open exclusively to orthodontists – only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can call themselves “orthodontists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.