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For most of the greater KC area, school is back in session this week, and that includes schools right here in Overland Park. That’s why your Overland Park dentist wanted to take a moment to tackle an issue that troubles both students and parents alike: lost retainers!
Sure, we lose plenty of things at school. The most common items that turn up in the school Lost & Found include clothing, lunch boxes, sunglasses, reusable water bottles, and school supplies. What doesn’t usually show up in the Lost & Found—even though they get lost every bit as often—are retainers. Why? Because they’re most often thrown away accidentally at lunchtime.
Accidentally throwing away or otherwise losing a retainer—at school or elsewhere—isn’t a small problem. The average retainer costs around $150, while some types can run $300 or more. Plus, you’re out the time it takes to replace a retainer. So, how can you NOT lose your retainer at school (or anywhere else) this year? Here are some best practices to help…
Use a brightly colored case – It’s always a good idea to put your retainer in its case anytime you need to take it off. And when you do, using a bright-colored case helps it to stand out. This makes it easier to find and less likely to get tossed out by accident. Want to help make sure your retainer finds its way back to you if you do misplace it? Add a name label so people who find it know that it’s yours.
NEVER wrap it in a napkin – We get it. You’re at lunch, you take out your retainer, it just feels natural to wrap it in a napkin or tissue. Unfortunately, what do you absolutely throw in the trash after lunch? Napkins! So, when you take your retainer out at lunchtime (or any other time), put it in its case. That’ll help keep it safe, out of the way, and you’re less likely to accidentally toss it in the trash.
Use the buddy system – We all have a lot on our minds, and it can be easy to forget something like our retainers. So, if you have a friend who also wears a retainer, agree to help remind one another to put them away safely and put them back in. It’ll help save you both from losing them.
Make it a habit – The best way to keep track of things is to always put them in the same place. This goes for retainers, too. Sure, you should always put it in its case, for starters, but then where do you put that? Whether it’s in your coat pocket, your lunch bag, or always on the left-hand side of your tray, as long as it’s always the same spot, you’ll be less likely to forget.
Put your retainer back in your mouth – Ultimately, that’s where it goes, and the most foolproof way to avoid losing your retainer is to keep it in whenever you can. When you’re done with lunch or after music class or sports practice after school, put your retainer BACK IN. And if you have trouble remembering, set a reminder on your smartphone, laptop, or mobile device to help you.
When you get right down to it, though, keeping track of your retainer is a team effort. Parents should help their kids remember, and have a talk with them about why it’s so important. Many kids may have no idea how much a retainer costs, or why it’s so vital for them to keep tabs on it.
No matter how careful you are, though, sometimes you just lose things, including retainers. So, if you do lose your retainer, you should contact your Overland Park dentist or orthodontist right away. If you need to make an appointment or just chat with a member of our friendly staff, call Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384 today!