Retainers for Kids: How to Ensure Proper Care and Maintenance 

After the hard work of orthodontic treatment, you might wonder, “Why does my child need retainers?” The truth is treatment doesn’t end when the braces come off. Retainers play a vital role in maintaining the results achieved by your trusted orthodontist in Kapolei. 

Why The Need for Retainers? 

What Are Retainers? 

Retainers are specialized orthodontic devices designed to maintain the alignment and position of teeth after the completion of orthodontic treatment, such as braces.  

These custom-made appliances are typically crafted from clear plastic or acrylic material and are uniquely tailored to fit your child’s mouth. Retainers ensure the hard-earned results achieved with the help of an orthodontist remain stable over time. 

Retainers are essential because teeth naturally shift back to their original positions after the braces come off. This shifting can undo the progress made during orthodontic treatment. Retainers hold the teeth in their newly corrected alignment, preventing unwanted movement. 

Depending on your child’s specific needs and treatment plan, they may wear their retainers full-time initially, gradually transitioning to nighttime use. Proper care, regular check-ups with the orthodontist, and adhering to recommended wear schedules are vital to the effectiveness of retainers in maintaining your child’s beautiful, confident smile. 

What Are the Different Types of Retainers? 

There are several types of retainers, each with unique characteristics and benefits. The choice of retainer type depends on your child’s orthodontic needs and the recommendations of their orthodontist. Here are the different types of retainers: 

  1. Hawley Retainers: These are the most common type of retainers. They consist of a molded acrylic base that sits on the roof of the mouth and a wire that goes across the front of the teeth. Hawley retainers are adjustable and can last for years with proper care. 
  1. Essix Retainers: These retainers are made of clear plastic and closely resemble clear orthodontic aligners. They are discreet and snugly fit over the teeth. Essix retainers are removable, making them convenient for eating and cleaning. 
  1. Bonded (Permanent) Retainers: These thin wires bonded to the back of the teeth. They are non-removable and provide continuous support to prevent teeth from shifting. Bonded retainers are often used for the lower front teeth. 
  1. Clear (Vivera) Retainers: Similar to Essix retainers, these are clear, removable retainers made by Invisalign®. They are durable and transparent, making them an inconspicuous choice. 

The type of retainer recommended for your child will depend on their specific orthodontic needs and their comfort and maintenance preferences. Proper care and regular follow-up appointments with the orthodontist are essential to ensure the retainers effectively maintain your child’s newly aligned smile. 

How Should You Care for Your Child’s Retainers? 

By incorporating these additional details into the care routine for your child’s retainers, you can help ensure their retainers remain in excellent condition and continue to provide the desired results from orthodontic treatment. 

Clean Daily 

Cleaning your child’s retainers daily is crucial to prevent plaque and bacteria buildup. Use a soft toothbrush and mild soap to scrub all surfaces gently, including the wires and clasps. 

Be thorough, as any residue left on the retainers can lead to unpleasant odors and potential oral health issues. Avoid using toothpaste, as it can be abrasive and may scratch the retainers, making them less effective over time. 

Rinse After Eating 

Encourage your child to rinse their retainers with lukewarm water after each meal or snack. This simple step helps remove food particles and debris that can accumulate on the retainers.  

Regular rinsing reduces the risk of bacterial growth and minimizes the chances of staining or odors developing on the devices. It’s a quick and effective way to maintain their cleanliness throughout the day. 

Store Properly 

Properly storing retainers is essential to avoid damage or loss. Remind your child to place their retainers in the provided case when not wearing them. This protective case shields the retainers from dust, germs, and accidental damage. Stress the importance of keeping the case in a consistent, easily accessible location to reduce the likelihood of misplacement. 

Avoid Heat 

Retainers should never come into contact with hot water or be exposed to direct sunlight or high temperatures. Heat can cause the retainers to warp or lose their shape, rendering them ineffective at maintaining the alignment of your child’s teeth. Ensure your child understands the importance of keeping their retainers away from heat sources, including dishwashers and car dashboards. 

Keep Them Safe 

Retainers can be a tempting target for pets or younger siblings who might see them as chew toys. It’s crucial to emphasize the importance of keeping the retainers safe and out of reach. Encourage your child to store their retainers securely in a high shelf or a drawer when they are not wearing them. 

Regular Check-ups 

Regular check-ups with your child’s orthodontist are essential for maintaining the health and effectiveness of their retainers. During these appointments, the orthodontist can professionally clean the retainers, ensuring they are free from buildup or residue. 

Additionally, the orthodontist will assess the fit and condition of the retainers and make any necessary adjustments. 

Handle with Care 

Your child should handle their retainers with care to prevent damage. Avoid bending or adjusting the wires, as this can alter the retainers’ fit and effectiveness. Teach your child to use both hands when inserting or removing the retainers to distribute the pressure evenly and reduce the risk of bending or breaking them. 

Replace as Needed 

Retainers may wear out or become damaged over time. Follow your orthodontist’s recommendations for replacing them, typically every one to two years.  

Replacing retainers as needed ensures they maintain the alignment of your child’s teeth effectively. Delaying replacement can lead to reduced effectiveness and potential regression in tooth alignment. 

Trust Your Orthodontist in Kapolei for Retainer Care 

Ensuring your child’s retainer is correctly cared for and maintained is essential for preserving their orthodontic results. Your orthodontist is your best resource for guidance, advice, and necessary adjustments or repairs. Working together as a team can help your child enjoy a lasting, confident smile. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s retainer, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Kidshine Pediatric Dental Group. Our experienced team specializes in pediatric orthodontics and provides top-notch care for your child’s smile. 

*Invisalign®, the Invisalign logo, and iTero®, among others, are trademarks and/ or service marks of Align Technology, Inc. or one of its subsidiaries or affiliated companies and may be registered in the U.S. and/or other countries.