After your child is done wearing braces, your dentist may prescribe a retainer to keep the teeth in their positions. Teeth tend to shift back to old positions, so it's important for your child to wear a retainer so that the orthodontic treatment isn't undone. There are two main types of retainers that your child could go with: removable or permanent retainers. You'll want to discuss the options with your child and his or her orthodontist. Here are some pros and cons of each choice to help you make the decision.
The Pros and Cons of Removable Retainers
Obviously, the biggest advantage of removable retainers is that they aren't permanent like braces, so they can be removed each day for eating. They can also be much easier to keep clean since they can be removed, and it's easier for your child to brush and floss his or her teeth.
The biggest downside of removable retainers is that your child may be tempted not to wear them. After braces are removed, it's easy to shirk retainer wear. Once teeth shift a little, the retainer will not fit well, and it may be uncomfortable to wear. If teeth shift enough, the retainer can break from the strain and your child would have to get fitted for a new one which could be costly. Another downside of removable retainers is that they can easily get lost since your child will need to take them out during eating.
The Pros and Cons of Permanent Retainers
Some people may balk at permanent retainers, but these types of retainers are bonded to the backsides of teeth, so they aren't very noticeable. The biggest advantage of permanent retainers is that they tend to maintain orthodontic results a lot better than removable retainers. Permanent retainers are especially helpful for people who have:
- A deep overbite
- Lots of tooth crowding or rotated teeth
- Lots of gaps or tooth extractions
Since the retainer is bonded to a group of teeth, your child can't lose the retainer or forget to wear it.
A downside of permanent retainers is that they do require a little more work to maintain, as your child will need to use special flossers to clean the appliance and around his or her teeth. In addition, permanent retainers can be more fragile than some removable retainers, so if your child has bruxism, he or she could accidentally clamp down and loosen the bonded retainer.
An orthodontist may recommend a combination of the two retainers, such as an upper removable and a lower permanent retainer. Within the removable retainer category, you can also have different types of retainers, like vacuum-formed retainers and Hawley retainers. There are lots of different options, so again, you'll want to talk with an orthodontist to weigh all the pros and cons. Contact an orthodontist for more information.