Braces are a major investment for anyone. They cost a lot of money and need to be worn for a long time to reach their full effect. Retainers help preserve that investment and ensure that your shiny and smooth new smile lasts as long as possible.
Although the primary purpose of retainers is to maintain the alignment of teeth after wearing braces for a long time, if your kid wears their retainer properly, as their orthodontist advises, the advantages can go far beyond that. Believe it or not, wearing a retainer can actually help to smooth out potential speech problems. For most kids, the most difficult part of dealing with the retainer is actually losing it. Kids have been known to lose their retainers in all sorts of places, ranging from under the bed, to in their parent’s trashcan, to on the floor of the school cafeteria!
It’s very important to help kids develop proper retainer habits, both for the good of their teeth, and also so they can and experience all the other benefits that the retainer brings with it. Learning to take care of their retainer can teach a child responsibility and help earn them some points from their orthodontist.
Why Should Your Child Wear a Retainer?
Retainers are usually worn at the conclusion of an orthodontic appliance treatment, such as braces or alignment trays. After the treatment device has been removed, the teeth can actually move back into their original position if not reinforced by some form of retainer. For this reason, if you want to preserve your pricey investment in terms of both time and money in this orthodontic treatment, it is vital that the retainer be worn as instructed by the orthodontist.
Retainers Can Help Improve Breathing
One aspect of retainers that many people don’t think about is that some retainers can actually help with breathing and even reduce snoring. This is because some retainers can actually assist with removing the blockage that causes sleep apnea in certain cases.
Retainers Can Help with Speech Impediments
Retainers can help treat speech impediments by adjusting tongue placement so that kids are able to form sounds in the correct ways as they learn to speak new words.
Retainers Can Help Cut Down on Bacteria
When teeth are properly aligned, this makes them easier to brush, floss, and clean. It also helps to improve chewing when teeth are properly aligned, and there is no overbite or underbite. When children are able to chew their food better, their bodies are better able to process nutrients, which results in better overall health. The mouth is also able to produce more saliva, which produces the important digestive enzymes that the body relies on to reduce plaque accumulation and prevent cavities from forming.
Retainers Can Actually Help with Diabetes in Certain Cases
According to the American Diabetes Association, poor mouth health can actually make the related effects of diabetes worse. By wearing a retainer properly, brushing daily, flossing regularly, and rinsing with a mouthwash, people can actually help reduce certain diabetes related issues.
While these may be side effects of wearing a retainer that we might not naturally think of, they are still very important. For these reasons wearing a retainer can actually be beneficial to your child’s overall health, not just their appearance.
Try These Tips to Help Your Child Care for Their Retainer:
• Purchase a larger retainer storage case, and keep the normal retainer case inside of that case. You could use a bag with the child’s favorite action Hero or a purse that is your daughter’s favorite color. If the case is more interesting and not awkward looking the child is more likely to carry it with them and less likely to lose it.
• Included a personalized note on your kid’s retainer case. This will let them know that you’re thinking of them, and can also serve to help them remember how to properly care for their retainer.
• Just like with anything else, it really helps to keep the retainer in one spot all the time.
• You can also take ideas from the tooth fairy! Leave your child something nice under their pillow each night they wear the retainer, especially during the first week. This helps to establish a positive emotional connection with wearing the retainer.
General Tips That Can Help When Wearing a Retainer:
• Be sure to floss daily. Most dentists and orthodontists agree that flossing on a regular basis is very important to dental health. If you have recently had an orthodontic treatment, it is vital that you keep your teeth clean to prevent any further decay from occurring.
• Wear a mouth guard if participating in contact sports or other vigorous athletic activities. Just as wearing a retainer is important in preserving the benefits of braces, wearing a mouth guard is also important to preserve both your teeth and your orthodontic appliances.
• Use mouthwash regularly. Mouthwash can help prevent cavities, prevent gum disease, and kill bacteria that could potentially harm the mouth or the teeth.
• Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush to protect the teeth. It’s important not to get so wrapped up in the complexities of dental treatments that we forget the basics!
Wearing a retainer isn’t something that comes naturally to anyone, so it’s important that as parents we do all that we can help our kids remember to wear them. It’s also important that they learn to take personal responsibility for such an important device and not lose it. Whenever this gets difficult, remember that your child will have an improved smile for the rest of their life!
Can you think of any other benefits of wearing a retainer, or tips for helping kids take care of their retainer and not lose it? Feel free to share them in the comments below!