The braces are finally off, but your orthodontist sent your child home with a retainer. You and your child might think the braces have done all of the work and that a retainer is unnecessary, but that’s far from the truth. If the orthodontist prescribed a retainer–whether to be worn at all times or just for sleeping–it’s important to encourage your child to follow these directions closely. Here are five great reasons not to skip the retainer.
1. Braces were an investment.
Even with insurance, you likely spent a large sum of money on your child’s braces. Braces can be considered a lifelong investment and not one you’ll need to spend money on again, but only if your child’s teeth stay in place. The retainer is there to hold teeth in the position the braces moved them to. Without it, teeth will start moving back to their original position, undoing all of the good you, your child, your orthodontist and the braces have worked so hard to accomplish.
2. Good habits are easier to start when you’re young.
It’s your job to nurture, support and educate your children. Teaching them healthy habits is an important part of this job. If you don’t take the orthodontist’s advice seriously, neither will your child. This is a great opportunity to teach your child about developing healthy habits and taking accountability for their own wellbeing. You’ve already taught them the importance of regular flossing and brushing, wearing a retainer as instructed is just one more step they should learn to accept as part of the routine.
3. Missing just one or two days can make wearing a retainer painful.
Teeth move faster than you expect. It might have taken months or even years to correct your child’s teeth with braces, you might think they can go days without wearing a retainer without a noticeable different. This isn’t the case at all. Teeth move gradually, but one sure way to tell that they have moved is by NOT wearing the retainer. A couple of hours may not make a difference, but if you aren’t diligent about checking to see that you child is wearing their retainer daily, you’ll both soon find out what a mistake that was. “After missing a day or more it will become difficult and oftentimes painful to try to fit the retainer back on, and that might be enough to make your child give up altogether,” said Webb Family Orthodontics. To avoid this, be sure your child is wearing it regularly. Eventually it should become a part of their routine, but as the adult, it’s your responsibility to be sure your child is staying on track.
4. Healthy teeth are important.
Maybe you were only thinking of the cosmetic need for braces, or maybe your teenage son or daughter had a straight smile on their wish list, but looks are not the only reason for braces. Crowded teeth can sometimes indicate a serious condition and whatever your orthodontist has prescribed is likely just as important for your child’s overall health than it is for a winning smile.
5. Your kids will thank you later!
Braces followed by a retainer might seem like the worst idea to a teenager. Even if their friends have braces, they might be reluctant to use them and not agree with your decision to go ahead with orthodontic treatments. This could lead to stubborn attitudes or even arguments–and the argument might start up each time your child needs to go in for an adjustment and every time you catch them not wearing a retainer. But stay strong and remember that you do have your child’s best interests at heart, even if they don’t believe that. It could take years, but eventually your child will thank you for this decision. Healthy teeth and a straight smile are important in all walks of life–from making friends to landing jobs. One day your child will look back at childhood pictures of their crooked teeth and thank you for nagging them to wear that retainer, and it will have been your encouragement that got them there!