Orthodontic Retainers: What to Expect After Braces Come Off

Orthodontic retainers

Now, before your child shouts, “I’m free! I’m free!…”

So, your child’s braces are off and they’re ready to live their life confidently and with good oral health.

…we need to talk about orthodontic retainers. Keep reading to learn what to expect after the braces come off and before they truly are free.

Orthodontic Retainers: The Post-Braces Support System

While many kids are understandably eager to be done with braces once they come off, the fact is, orthodontic retainers do as much work—if not more—than the braces themselves.

Straight teeth in proper alignment have to stay that way, and for that, orthodontic retainers are a big help.

When the braces are removed, teeth can still shift if not helped through a period of adjustment, to settle in. Orthodontic retainers gently but purposefully remind the teeth to stay straight during this adjustment period.

orthodontic retainers prevent shifting

It’s advised that nearly all patients who’ve gone through the time, work, and expense of braces will want to use fixed or removable orthodontic retainers for months or years or even for life.

Some dentists doing braces for kids won’t tell you this, but I will…

…years ago, clinicians believed that once teeth were straightened by braces, they would simply stay that way forever. New science says otherwise.

In fact, teeth position shifting as we age is to be expected

Teeth naturally shift to the middle and crowd. So, orthodontic retainers are actually extremely important in maintaining the new smile from braces.

Orthodontic retainers can play a role in:

  • Closing any gaps that may remain in the bite
  • Correcting any speech problems—sometimes occurring with a new bite or jaw position
  • Tongue thrust—where the tongue slips under the teeth while talking
  • Bruxism—grinding teeth while sleeping

As you can see, there’s a lot more to this than just “installing and removing braces for kids.”

What Type of Orthodontic Retainer Will My Child Need?

Orthodontists tend to decide on the best kind of orthodontic retainer for your child before the removal of the braces.

Jaw growth after treatment (yes, the jaw is still growing in adolescents, to age eighteen or so), along with the stabilizing of the gums and bone tissues, pressures from lips and tongue, and other factors tell us what type of orthodontic retainer should be worn and for how long.

Orthodontic retainers can be made out of plastic, and sometimes, still metal. They are custom made to fit as part of the complete orthodontic treatment.

plastic retainer
hawley retainer

Some orthodontic retainers are invisible or nearly invisible. These are clear plastic retainers.

They may easily miss an early diagnosis of malocclusion, when it could have been averted

A fixed or permanent orthodontic retainer is typically placed on the inside/back surfaces of the lower front teeth.

A fixed orthodontic retainer may be used indefinitely to ensure that your child’s teeth remain corrected and you protect your investment.

To learn how to floss a permanent orthodontic retainer, watch the video below.

Orthodontic retainers are an important part of the complete orthodontic treatment program personalized for your child.

There’s just one last thing we haven’t touched on…what actually goes on during an orthodontic consultation?

Schedule a Free Orthodontic Consultation For Your Child

You can schedule a 100% free consultation for you or your child with Premier Orthodontics to find out if and when your child needs braces.

At your initial exam and consultation you’ll discover:

  Does my child need braces?

   What is the best age to get braces?

   What costs should I expect?

   How long will the treatment take?