It is often wrongly assumed that braces guarantee permanent results. Teeth tend to return to their original position once the braces are removed, which is why retainers are used.
A retainer after braces helps keep your child’s teeth aligned and helps to ensure the best possible results for the ideal smile. It is essential to wear a retainer for the recommended amount of time after braces to ensure your child’s teeth stay in the proper place and do not shift.
Types of Retainers After Braces
Your child can wear three different types of retainers after getting their braces off. These common types of retainers will help keep your child’s teeth from sliding back into their old position once the braces have been removed.
Clear Plastic Retainer
A clear plastic container is an aligner to help keep your child’s teeth in place. This type of retainer is often used for those who want to keep their retainer unnoticeable to others. Usually, teenagers prefer the clear plastic retainer because they are virtually invisible.
Children who do not want a retainer are likely to wear this type since others will not notice. The clear plastic retainer is not recommended for children who grind their teeth and is not as durable as the Hawley retainer.
The Hawley retainer is the most common type for children to receive after braces. This type of retainer is tongue-shaped and is made from metal and acrylic. It is designed to fit into your child’s mouth, and the wire keeps their teeth in the proper position.
It positions the teeth by stabilizing them while the bone around the teeth hardens. The Hawley retainer is durable and can be easily adjusted for minor movements of your child’s teeth.
Fixed Bonded Retainer
A fixed bonded retainer is used on children if it is a concern that their teeth will move back to their original position after braces. A fixed bonded retainer is invisible because it is connected at the back of the teeth, and a wire holds the teeth in place.
This type of retainer cannot be removed like the Hawley retainer or the clear plastic retainer, as it is bonded into place until it must be removed.
How Long Do You Have to Wear Retainers After Braces
For some children, it is recommended that they wear their retainer after braces every day for months.
Other children are instructed to wear their retainer for a year or sometimes more. They should be worn throughout the day, except for eating. Sometimes, your child’s orthodontist may recommend wearing a retainer indefinitely because the teeth never stop shifting.
Results of Not Wearing Retainer
There are several consequences your child may face if they do not wear their retainer after getting their braces off. These are the four most common effects of not wearing a retainer after braces.
Teeth Alignment is Worsened
Your child’s teeth alignment may worsen if they do not wear their retainer, as their teeth can shift back into a position worse than before they got braces.
If this happens, your child may need braces for a second time to realign the teeth. Then, they must wear their retainer for the recommended time after bracing.
The teeth constantly shift because they are subject to forceful movements when we talk, chew, bite, or swallow. While the shifting of your children’s teeth cannot be controlled, it can be helped by wearing a retainer.
The main point of using a retainer is to keep the teeth from shifting back to their original position. If your child does not wear their retainer as instructed, their teeth return to their original position.
Orthodontic relapse is most common during the first year after braces, as your child’s ligament and gum fibers are getting used to their new teeth positions. Orthodontic relapse typically occurs for everyone who does not wear their retainer after braces within the first ten years.
While not wearing a retainer can cause your child’s teeth to shift, it can also cause unwanted bite changes.
Braces and retainers are intended to fix your child’s bite while also straightening teeth. If the retainer is not worn, your child’s bite can shift back, causing an uncomfortable sensation when biting down.
Repeat Treatment Is Necessary
The American Association of Orthodontics states that the retention stage is just as important as the active phase of treatment.
The active phase is the braces, and the retention phase is wearing a retainer. The retention phase is crucial to maintain straight teeth after braces. If your child does not wear the retainer, all orthodontic progress up to that point can be lost.
Repeat treatment would be necessary to reverse this, and it is typically unwanted by both the child and the parent. The orthodontist’s time and your money and time have been wasted.
How Fast do Teeth Move Without a Retainer
If your child does not wear their retainer, their teeth can begin shifting back into their original position in as little as two weeks. It can be one tooth that moves and creates a gap or multiple teeth that cause many issues.
The shifting of your child’s teeth can be prevented by wearing a retainer, even if they did not wear it for a few days. The retainer should be worn as much as possible to prevent the teeth from causing further issues.
What to Do if You Lost Your Retainer
If your child has lost their retainer, you should contact our office immediately and request a replacement retainer. Ask for the replacement as soon as possible to prevent your child’s teeth from shifting.
It is as simple as calling our office and stating, “I lost my retainer.” We will order a new one for your child as quickly as possible.
Wearing a retainer after braces is essential, as it is responsible for properly aligning your child’s teeth.
Learn more about our Orthodontic & Pediatric Dental Services at The Super Dentists. Schedule an appointment today and bring your family to a Super Dentists location near you!