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The Braces Are Off! How Long Does My Child Need to Wear a Retainer?

Nov 01, 2022

 The Braces Are Off! How Long Does My Child Need to Wear a Retainer?

Your child doesn’t have to wear braces anymore. That’s exciting! However, the use of a retainer is necessary for them to maintain their results. Find out how long a retainer is needed.

Braces can be uncomfortable, and kids can’t wait to take them off as soon as they finish their treatment. 

However, despite popular belief, orthodontic treatment doesn’t end when the braces come off. You need the help of a retainer to maintain the results. 

Teeth tend to shift back to their initial positions, so skipping the use of a retainer can lead to misalignment and the need to repeat the treatment. 

After braces are removed, the ligaments activate their muscle memory and shift teeth back into their old positions. Light pressure from retainers can prevent this shift. 

If your child just had their braces taken off, you may be wondering about the next stage of their orthodontic treatment: the retainer. Our experts at iSmiles Kids Dentistry and Orthodontics have extensive experience treating misaligned teeth. Below, we asked them to share everything parents need to know about retainers. 

Understanding how long retainers are worn

The length of time your child will need to wear a retainer depends on the type of retainer recommended after the treatment and the type of misalignment treated. Some children may need to wear retainers at night for a lifetime. 

During the first three to six months, children typically need to wear their retainer for about 22 hours per day, removing them when they eat or drink. Following this period, orthodontists often recommend nighttime use. 

Not all retainers are the same. Some retainers are permanently bonded to the back of the teeth and can last for years. These retainers are often used for cases in which misalignment is severe and the odds of teeth shifting back to their initial positions are high. 

There are two types of removable retainers: clear plastic retainers and retainers made out of plastic and metal wires. 

Clear plastic retainers can be worn throughout the day without being noticeable, and after a certain period of time, they can be used only during nighttime. Plastic and metal wire retainers function the same as clear retainers but are a bit more noticeable and can cause some discomfort. 

What happens if your child skips wearing their retainer?

For most children and adults, going about four weeks without a retainer may cause a small shift in the teeth, especially in people who just finished their orthodontic treatment. It’s important to help your child develop a consistent routine to make wearing their retainer a habit.

Get your retainer fitted with us 

If your child just had their braces removed, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our team offers various types of retainers and can provide you with guidance on how to maintain your child’s results.