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A young girl wears a retainer to fix crooked teeth.

As your child’s first permanent teeth begin to come in, you may start to be concerned if they’re not coming in straight. They might seem crooked or misplaced. They might leave big gaps or be too crowded. You may start to wonder, “Can a retainer fix crooked teeth?”

Every parent wants their child to have a beautiful smile they can be proud of for a lifetime. So what options are available to correct the issue? Parents who are unfamiliar with children’s orthodontics may be confused about what the next step should be. Here at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental, we field these types of questions regularly from concerned parents. One of the more common questions we hear is, “Can retainers fix crooked teeth?”

How Retainers Work

To understand how retainers can fix crooked teeth, we have to take a moment to consider what a retainer is. As a general rule, retainers are not a device used to take corrective action in teeth. As the name implies, a retainer “retains” the progress that has already been made in correcting crooked teeth. Retainers don’t move the teeth; they make sure teeth don’t move back to their prior orientation once they have been relocated to their correct places. A retainer is utilized at the end of the tooth-fixing process to keep the teeth in their new location, not at the beginning.

Options for Retainers

Can a retainer fix crooked teeth on its own without any other dental interventions? Unfortunately, the answer is no. A retainer is used for a period of time following orthodontic work to ensure that teeth stay in their new position.

Other methods must first be utilized to move teeth into the proper places. At Toothfairy Pediatric Dental, we offer several different ways to fix crooked teeth. They include:

  • Traditional braces. Braces have been a rite of passage for teenagers for several generations. The traditional wire and bracket approach is tried and true. Many families choose braces for their children because they get results. Although braces are effective, they have several negative characteristics as well. First, many children feel socially awkward wearing braces, as they can be very noticeable. Also, traditional braces can cause pain to the gums and cheek from the metal and wire that can rub them raw. Additionally, many eating restrictions come with braces (no gum, no popcorn, no sticky candy, etc.).
  • Lingual braces: A newer option for fixing crooked teeth is lingual braces. They are like traditional braces, except they attach to the rear of the teeth instead of the front. This feature eliminates some of the self-consciousness that comes with traditional braces. However, lingual braces also have some downsides. Because they’re located behind the teeth instead of on the front, they are more challenging to clean. Also, they take longer to fix crooked teeth than traditional braces do. Despite these issues, lingual braces are a popular choice.
  • Invisalign: The newest option available for patients wanting to straighten their teeth is Invisalign. Invisalign is a vastly different approach to moving teeth. Instead of using rubber bands and metal, Invisalign offers clear plastic trays that sit over the top of teeth. These transparent aligners gently move teeth over time to their proper locations. Every few months, your child will receive new trays until their teeth are correctly aligned. Kids love Invisalign because they’re virtually impossible to see. Also, because the trays are removed from the mouth every time they eat, there are no eating restrictions. Is Invisalign perfect? Unfortunately, no. One of Invisalign’s main drawbacks is that it is not the best solution for patients with more extreme or difficult dental situations.

Which choice is right for your child? There’s no simple answer, as each child’s case is different. As you speak with your child’s orthodontist, they’ll lay out all of your options, as well as the pros and cons of each option.

Image of a retainer that can help crooked teeth.

When Can Retainers Help Crooked Teeth?

Once braces or Invisalign have shifted your child’s teeth to their new, correct locations, their teeth are prone to continue moving. This stage is where retainers can help crooked teeth! Now that your kid’s teeth are where they should be, they’ll need to wear a retainer for a determined amount of time to help ensure the teeth remain where they’re supposed to for the rest of their life.

While retainers cannot fix crooked teeth independently, they are an essential part of the orthodontic work. Retainers are very necessary because they serve a very specific purpose. Failure to properly use a retainer after braces or Invisalign can undo months of dental work – and no one wants that to happen!

How long will your child need to wear a retainer? Every child is different, but commonly, retainers are usually worn from six months to a year after braces or Invisalign treatment is over. Your child’s orthodontist will have more information about their specific needs and care.

Where Should My Child Get Care?

Now that you know how retainers can fix crooked teeth when used with other orthodontic measures such as braces or Invisalign, you’ll need to decide where your child should get their orthodontic care. Ideally, look for a practice that has a dentist and orthodontist under the same roof. Why is that important? Not only is it convenient to have both specialists together to coordinate appointments, but you can also be assured that each specialist will work in tandem to make sure you get the best overall result.

If you live in the Reno, Nevada area, it’s not difficult to find a dental practice that offers both. Toothfairy Pediatric Dental offers six convenient locations for both children’s orthodontics and pediatric dentistry. Our friendly offices accept insurance and Medicaid and are a welcoming environment for all children. We encourage you to visit our website to learn about us and our goal to make sure every child can have their oral care needs met.

Can retainers fix crooked teeth in kids? No. Are they an essential part of the overall orthodontic experience? Absolutely! Contact us today at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental so we can set you up for a consultation. Our reviews from current patients will assure you that you’ve come to the right place.