Many younger patients who’ve gone through years of wearing braces often find their teeth regressing due to incorrect retainer usage. After all the effort spent in order to correct one’s teeth alignment, it’s a pity to see many adolescent patients lose their beautiful smiles due to either losing one’s retainer, forgetting to wear them, or simply not understanding the importance of consistent retainer usage.

Modern retainers in 2020 are far more user-friendly than the types from the past; using 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies, these retainers fit precisely onto the teeth which allows for maximum comfort and helps teeth stay in position for longer. Let’s take a closer look as to why proper retainer usage can greatly improve our children’s quality of life and oral health.

First, why wear retainers?

Simply put, retainers for teeth are commonly worn after a patient fully corrects their teeth by wearing braces. They can be seen as the final phase of a braces treatment, and often patients will be needed to wear retainers for the rest of their lives to maintain their teeth’s alignment. 

Most dentists will require patients to wear retainers during sleep (7-8 hours a day). In some cases, the patient might need to wear retainers during the day for around a year after completing braces treatment.

Why straighten teeth in the first place?

Leaving aside aesthetic concerns, there are actually many functional reasons why having straight teeth is good for our oral and overall health and well being. Straighter teeth are much easier to clean and are less susceptible to cavities or plaque build-up. A correct bite, which retainers can correct, is also very important in chewing food properly (especially crucial for younger kids). Having straight teeth and a correct bite may allow more saliva production, which reduces plaque build-up & the chance of developing cavities.

What other benefits does wearing retainers have?

Retainers can be used as an early form of tooth grinding (bruxism) detection. If you find that the retainers constantly have perforations or holes in them, it could be a sign that your child might be grinding your teeth at night. As such, a nightguard is might be a better option as it protects the teeth and is more durable to breakages.

How do I get my kids into the habit of wearing a retainer?

Retainers are often thought to be a hassle and I see many of my younger patients unhappy that they need to wear them on a daily basis. Many kids who wear retainers throughout the day find that they are easy to misplace and find that removing them before meals can be a gross experience. However, wearing retainers doesn’t need to feel like a chore for your kids. Here are some tips & tricks to help your kids build up good retainer habits in their lives:

  • If the retainer case is too small and easy to misplace, consider finding a better container for your child to carry along. It can be something like a pouch with their favourite cartoon emblazoned on it or a case in their favourite colour. Giving your child something larger and more colourful makes it much less likely for them to carelessly misplace their container.
  • You can try leaving a personalized, handwritten note in your child’s retainer box. Little things like these can make the experience fun and will serve as a reminder for your child to remember to place the retainer back into the box when they’re not wearing it.
  • Help your child build up the habit of keeping the box into their school bag or pockets when he or she needs to remove their retainers before meals. Also, keeping the retainer box at the same spot in their bedrooms will make it much harder to misplace.
  • For the younger children, giving them little incentives like small gifts for wearing their retainers properly at night can be really encouraging and helps them see the entire process of wearing retainers in a more positive light.

At the end of the day, it may take a while for your children to become accustomed to wearing their retainers and settling into good retainer habits, but be patient and they will get there eventually. As with all good habits we try to inculcate into our children, they will be the ones thanking us in the future and it’ll be very rewarding to see their glowing, beautiful smiles when that day comes.

References

  1. US4413978A – Orthodontic retainer
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US4413978A/en
  2. Retainer wear and compliance in the first 2 years after active orthodontic treatment
    Kacer, Valiathan, Narendran, & Hans
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889540610005391
  3. The quality of information on the Internet on orthodontic retainer wear: a cross-sectional study
    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14653125.2015.1114711
  4. Mechanical and geometric properties of thermoformed and 3D printed clear dental aligners
    Jindal, Juneja, Siena, Bajaj, & Breedon
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889540619306262
  5. Evaluation of fit for 3D-printed retainers compared with thermoform retainers
    Cole, Bencharit, Carrico, Arias, & Tüfekçi
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S088954061831117X

 

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