Getting braces is a big transition for kids. Just like braces, the retainer the orthodontist provides after braces are gone requires special care to ensure that it lasts a long time and doesn’t harbor bacteria which can negatively impact oral health. If you’re looking for more information on how to help your child care for their retainer, you’ve come to the right place!
Why Wearing a Retainer is Important
You may have expected that once your child gets their braces off, their orthodontic treatment is complete and they can return to life as normal without any orthodontic appliances. While frequent visits for adjustments and check in’s is usually no longer necessary, an orthodontic appliance called a retainer is usually necessary in order to help protect the results that braces have accomplished and prevent the teeth from becoming crooked or crowded again.
Types of Retainers
There are two general types of retainers. Your child’s orthodontist may fit them with a permanent retainer or a removable one. Instruction for how to help your child care for their retainer depends on the type of retainer they are provided with.
If your child has a permanent or fixed retainer, then it fits and functions a lot like braces, except that it is usually attached to the inner side of a row of teeth instead of the outside, so that it is not visible when they smile.
To care for a permanent retainer, make sure that when your child brushes their teeth they focus special attention on cleaning the different angles of the retainer. It’s also important to floss under the wire of the retainer and between the teeth affected by the retainer. To do this, it can be helpful to use a threader or special floss that is designed with a threader built in. Be gentle when cleaning the retainer so as to not damage it or pull it loose. If any part of the retainer becomes detached from a tooth or is pulled out of shape, call your child’s orthodontist right away.
How to help your child care for their retainer if it is removable is different because it is not inside their mouth or attached to their teeth while it is being cleaned which can make maintenance easier. It can also make it tempting to clean it too aggressively, though, leading to damage and the need for a costly replacement.
Usually, brushing with a toothbrush and toothpaste is sufficient for your child to keep their retainer clean, but if residue starts to build up that is difficult to remove you can ask your orthodontist to recommend a dental appliance cleaner or soaking solution, like the kind typically used for dentures, that is safe for use on your child’s retainer.
Talk to Your Child’s Orthodontist
If you’d like to learn more about how to help your child care for their retainer, call your child’s orthodontist to make an appointment for a visit. Your child’s orthodontist can demonstrate for you and your child how to best care for their orthodontic appliance and may have helpful suggestions for tools that might make it easier.
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