The day your child gets their braces off is a significant milestone. Whether they’ve worn braces for one year or five, it will be an equally big deal to both you and them. You’ve waited so long for this day, but you may be a bit surprised that it’s not actually the end of your child having to wear mouth gear.
After your child gets his or her braces off, they will still have to wear a retainer for a while to maintain the results from their braces. Your child’s braces were a big investment in their future smile, but if you stop treatment — which includes wearing a retainer — too soon, all the hard time and money you’ve invested could be for nothing. Dr. Joseph Z. Yousefian of Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens and Adults explains more about how long your child needs to wear a retainer.
What is a retainer?
A retainer is a piece of plastic and metal that is custom-designed to fit your child’s mouth. Although retainers may look similar to one another, each one is unique. Retainers are either permanent or removable. Even if your child’s retainer is removable, you still carefully need to follow the instructions about how often to wear it.
Why your child needs a retainer
A retainer may look like a simple device made of metal and plastic, but it actually has a very important function: It keeps your child’s teeth from shifting out of position.
After wearing braces for so long, your child’s teeth are in a much different position than they were when you started this journey. It took all that time of wearing braces to shift your child’s teeth to a much more aesthetically pleasing position.
But if your child doesn’t wear their retainer — or even skips wearing it a bit too often — they will likely find their teeth shifting back toward their original position. As tempting as it might feel to have their mouth completely free of wearing mouth gear, it’s really not worth it to skip wearing their retainer.
It’s not uncommon for children who had braces and didn’t wear their retainers often enough to grow up to be adults who need aligners such as Invisalign® to straighten their teeth.
How long your child needs to wear a retainer
How long your child needs to wear a retainer depends on a lot of factors, including whether they get a removable retainer or wear one that’s fixed in place.
Removable retainers are generally worn for four months to a year, though this depends on other factors, such as how well your child sticks to wearing theirs. Generally, removable retainers are supposed to be worn for most of the day, being removed only to eat and brush their teeth.
Fixed retainers are bonded into place on your child’s teeth and are usually expected to be worn for a longer period. How long depends on the extent of how much shifting of the teeth was done by the braces. The greater the change, the longer the period of wearing a retainer will probably be.
Your child will come in for regular checkups, so Dr. Yousefian can tell how well your child’s teeth are responding to the retainer. (And yes, he can tell if your child’s not wearing it as often as they should.)
If your child needs braces, you should expect them to have to wear a retainer for some period afterward. This is true even if your child gets Invisalign instead of traditional braces.
If you would like to know more about getting braces or how long your child will have to wear a retainer, contact Dr. Joseph Z. Yousefian at Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens and Adults at our Bellevue, Washington, office, or request an appointment online.