What Happens If My Child Doesn’t Wear Their Retainer?

What Happens If My Child Doesn’t Wear Their Retainer?

There’s usually a celebratory mood when you get your braces or Invisalign® trays off, whether you’re a teen or an adult. Your smile is finally fabulous, just as you and your orthodontist planned and pictured.

But did you know that a pivotal step after your braces come off is pivotal when preserving the results of your orthodontic treatment?

It’s making sure that you wear your retainer. The orthodontic appliance that ensures the straightening and correcting of your braces or trays made happen doesn’t end up being for naught.

Dr. Wayne Hickory and the caring team at Embassy Row Orthodontics have one goal for every patient: to create the most beautiful, aligned smile for them possible. Even though we have a unified goal, we reach it differently for every patient — look at our “Before and After” page to get a taste of these transformations! Our treatment is customized and compassionately delivered using the most advanced methods available. 

What’s the big deal about retainers?

We’ll tell you! Your child’s teeth are interesting in many ways. One is that even after sophisticated orthodontic treatment realigns their teeth gradually and accurately. Thanks to high-tech tools, such as digital imaging and photographic renderings of their future smile, this work can start unraveling soon after treatment is done if they don’t wear their retainer religiously. 

Our teeth shift throughout our lifetimes, but the first year after orthodontic treatment is when anyone is at the highest risk for their teeth shifting back into pre-treatment positions. Bite problems can also arise. 

It’s even possible for your child’s teeth to shift into positions worse than how they settled before treatment! This can lead to needing to repeat orthodontic treatment for an even longer period than your child’s initial treatment time lasted.

Think of it this way — when your child’s orthodontic treatment ends, they don’t stop talking, chewing, or biting. These all put different types of pressure on their teeth, and their retainer is a smile-saving tool that opposes all unwanted changes that the activities initiate. 

You certainly don’t want the time, money, and energy you spent correcting your child’s smile to be undone simply by neglecting this pivotal step.

What are a patient’s options for retainers?

We offer two retainer options after your child’s treatment, and Dr. Hickory makes a recommendation based on several factors and offers guidance on how to care for whichever one that’s best for them.

A fixed retainer is a flexible, stainless steel wire that Dr. Hickory attaches to the backsides of between four and six of your child’s teeth. This is done in-office, and the retainer is placed permanently. Fixed retainers do a great job of ensuring the teeth stay united and keeping them for shifting.

Care merely requires that they use a special tool we provide them with that allows them to floss in the area under the wire between these teeth. 

A Vivera® retainer is actually a clear tray, not unlike an Invisalign tray, that fits precisely over your child’s teeth. Every time your child removes it, they should rinse it with lukewarm water. Be careful to avoid using hot water, as that can warp your retainer. The only other thing to watch out for is clearing any food that gets stuck in it by simply using a moistened cotton swab. Brushing it softly with toothpaste is also recommended. 

It makes sense for your child to take good care of their retainer so you can avoid frequently needing to replace them.

How long must my child wear a retainer?

Dr. Hickory will advise your child about how often they should wear their retainer if it’s the removable type. Often, patients wear it continuously for the initial nine months after treatment ends, and then they typically transition to nightly wear while sleeping. As we’ve explained, it’s important to observe his recommendations when it comes to wearing a retainer and caring for it properly. 

Because retainers do have finite lifespans, even if they’re well cared for, we’re happy to provide a replacement for your child whenever they need it. 

Call our office at 202-342-9600 to schedule an appointment and learn more about the importance of retainers and how they fit into your child’s long-term orthodontic treatment plan or request one online.

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