Orthodontic treatments are expensive and take quite a while to complete, but teeth have the tendency to shift back to their initial positions. Retainers preserve your child’s straight teeth, and, in some cases, they may even be used to close spaces between teeth if the gaps are small.


Below, we asked our experts at iSmiles Kids Dentistry and Orthodontics in Corona, California, to explain the benefits of wearing a retainer on a nightly basis. Read on to find out what can happen if your child skips wearing their retainer.


Prevent tongue thrust and misalignments


Due to the use of pacifiers, many children tend to thrust their tongue forward when swallowing or even when their tongue is at rest. When done regularly, this type of tongue thrusting can push teeth forward and cause misalignments.


To prevent this, experts often recommend retainers that look like small metal bars attached to the roof of a child’s mouth. These prevent the tongue from pushing on the teeth. Over time, your child’s tongue will be trained to stop pushing against the teeth when swallowing or when at rest.


Prevent teeth clenching and jaw pain


As your child’s teeth shift due to wearing braces for prolonged periods, your child may find it challenging to adapt to their new bite. Some children clench their teeth as they adapt to the changes in their bite.


Left untreated, teeth clenching can wear down the enamel on the surface of the teeth and cause facial muscle pain.


Retainers can prevent teeth clenching, especially during the night when your child is less likely to be aware of what’s happening. Teeth clenching can also happen in children with temporomandibular disorder (TMD).


Prevent plaque accumulation and cavities


Your child’s retainer may indirectly prevent plaque and cavities by maintaining the position of your child’s teeth after the treatment. Straight teeth that aren’t crowded are easier to clean, which makes them less likely to develop cavities.


How long should your child wear their retainer?


Retainers can be either fixed or removable. Depending on the type of misalignment your child suffered in the past, they may be recommended to wear retainers for anywhere between three months and a year after their braces have been removed.


Some children may have to wear retainers for longer periods. If your child has undergone orthodontic treatment, remind them to wear their retainer every night so their results stick. In certain cases, orthodontic treatments need to be repeated if children fail to wear their retainers.


Contact us to schedule an appointment to learn more about retainers, and find out if your child needs them.

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