It’s the day you’ve been waiting for with heightened anticipation.
Finally, after many months (or perhaps even years) of visiting the orthodontist for painful adjustments, you get to be free from your braces. No more elastic bands, trouble eating corn on the cob (the struggle is real), or awkward picture day photos.
But wait – we’d like you to meet the retainer.
Composed of metal and plastic, custom-made for each individual so that it fits the top of the teeth and mouth, for many kids and teens, wearing a retainer is a lot to ask. Not only is it a responsibility that requires commitment and consistency, it can also be a cause of embarrassment or annoyance.
That being said, the consequences of not wearing a retainer are even worse.
Let’s take a closer look at the reality of wearing retainers for kids and teens (and hopefully convince you why you need to wear one!)
Why a Retainer?
It’s important to understand why you should wear a retainer in the first place, which is to make sure your teeth stay firmly in their brand new position.
You’re probably thinking, “But I just had braces - my teeth are straight!” That’s true - but unfortunately, your teeth are not fully cemented in their new position. That means they can revert back to the crooked positions they were before. Imagine – all that time, discomfort, and money wasted!
Retainers for kids and teens are especially important because as they grow, their teeth will naturally shift.
Common Excuses for Not Wearing Retainer After Braces
We get it - wearing a retainer can be annoying and uncomfortable. You have to take it out of your mouth every time you eat (even during school lunch!) In addition, you have to care for it by washing it regularly and store it carefully so it doesn’t break or get lost. It’s definitely a big responsibility but hey, no one said getting that killer smile was going to be easy.
Even after hearing all the warnings about the consequences of not wearing a retainer, many kids and teens put up a fight and make up excuses to avoid wearing it.
Here are some common ones:
“It’s uncomfortable or painful”: Don’t worry, it’s normal for your retainer to feel weird, especially at first. You may even experience pressure or soreness on certain teeth. After a few days, however, you won’t even notice it - we promise! If it’s truly causing you pain, however, (cutting or rubbing against your gums) go see your orthodontist.
“It’s embarrassing to take out when I eat”: You’re not the first person to sit in the cafeteria and take out a retainer, and you certainly won’t be the last. While it’s natural to feel self-conscious, do not eat with your retainer in your mouth! This can risk damaging the appliance. A much safer choice is going to the bathroom before lunch and taking out your retainer in private.
“It makes me sound funny when I talk”: Again, this is totally normal - even the increase in saliva! Your mouth will adjust to this new device and before long, you’ll be talking like you usually do. A great way to get used to the retainer is to talk slowly and read outloud.
“But my friends don’t wear their retainer”: Hmm, if they had braces, they probably should! That being said, wearing a retainer only at night is very common but usually comes after several months of having to wear the retainer full time.
Wear your retainer as you should and pretty soon, you might not need it at all!
Tips for Parents
As a parent, it can be frustrating to reason with a stubborn child or teen, especially if they’ve been looking forward to being brace-free. Be prepared to be met with resistance. However, with a bit of tough love, encouragement, and persistence, we’re certain you can win the battle over wearing retainers.
Before your child gets fitted for their retainer, build some excitement by asking them what sort of design they want. Most retainers are customizable and can be decorated to express different styles and interests. For example, the orthodontist may be able to add a picture on the plastic part of the retainer, such as your little one's favorite animal or superhero.
If you or your child are worried about losing or breaking the retainer, check out our RooTainer cases. Thanks to a clip option that attaches to a waistband or backpack, the retainer can be easily and safely transported between school and activities. Plus, they’re also customizable with a selection of different colors and vinyls.
Finally, explain to your child the importance and necessity of wearing their retainer. They might not understand that their teeth will naturally want to shift, undoing all the hard work their braces just accomplished.
Show them pictures or tell them stories of what happened to others who ruined their straight smiles by not wearing their retainer after braces. Once they understand the consequences, it might be easier for them to get on board.