The Importance of Your Child’s Retainer After Braces Come Off

Posted on: December 4, 2015 | Blog

Smiling woman holding two different types of retainers

Orthodontic treatment for your pre-teen or teenager can seem endless, but the day that the braces are finally removed is cause for celebration. Top orthodontists in Las Vegas work carefully to achieve optimum positioning for their patients, and removal of the hardware is a significant milestone. However, this is not the end of the treatment plan. As a parent, you might view the retainer phase as a minor detail, but your oversight and cooperation with your child’s orthodontist are crucial for a good outcome.

Positioning Changes Can Lead to New Braces

As the hardware is removed from your child’s teeth, the pressure that has moved them into place will be gone. Unfortunately, this can lead to changes in alignment, resulting in crooked teeth again. The retainer is designed to prevent these changes, but many teens reject the apparatus. Unlike braces, a retainer can be inserted or removed at will. Some people simply forget to use their retainers. Others resist because of discomfort or self-consciousness. Regardless of the excuse, retainer neglect is the primary reason that a second set of braces may be needed.

Modern Retainer Options Are More Convenient

There are now choices in retainer designs as patients enter this final stage of treatment. The Hawley model is designed with a metal wire that encircles the teeth and an acrylic plate that presses against the palate. The Essix model may be more popular with today’s patient due to reduced visibility. This retainer is created of clear plastic and is molded to fit exactly over the teeth. In either case, a patient is typically expected to wear the retainer around the clock for the first few months.

New Retainers Can Be Made as Needed

Although an orthodontist will usually only monitor retainer progress for one to two years, a patient should plan to use the retainer nightly for life. A new appliance can be made if an older retainer breaks or wears out.

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