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Can Retainers Fix Crooked Teeth In Kids?

colored plastic retainer

As your child’s first permanent teeth begin to come in, you may start to be concerned. As more and more take the place of the primary teeth, you realize what’s happening: your child’s teeth are coming in crooked.

As parents watch their children’s teeth come in crooked, misplaced, or crowded, it’s a cause of worry and concern. Of course, 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 on a regular basis from concerned parents. One of the more common questions we hear is, “can retainers fix crooked teeth in kids?”.

If you’re unsure whether a retainer is the answer to your child’s problems with crooked teeth, take a minute to learn more about this important issue.

Can Retainers Actually Fix Crooked Teeth?

To understand what retainers actually do for teeth, we have to take a moment to consider what a retainer is. As a general rule, retainers are not a device used to make 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 actually move the teeth, they make sure they don’t move back to their previous spots once they have been moved to their proper places. This means that a retainer is utilized at the end of the tooth-fixing process, not the beginning.

What Options Do I Have For Crooked Teeth?

Unfortunately, the previous paragraph may have caused more questions than answers in your mind. If retainers don’t fix crooked teeth, then what can?

This is an important question, as some other method must be utilized to move teeth into the proper places. At Toothfairy Pediatric Dental, we several different ways to fix crooked teeth. They include:

girl smiling with braces

  • 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 also 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, there are many eating restrictions that 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 much like traditional braces, except they are attached to the rear of the teeth instead of the front of them. This helps eliminate some of the self-consciousness that comes along with traditional braces. However, lingual braces also have some downsides as well. Because they’re located behind the teeth instead of on the front of them, they are much more difficult to clean. Also, they take longer to fix crooked teeth than traditional braces do. However, 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 from braces. Instead of using rubber bands and metal, Invisalign is 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 your teeth are perfectly aligned. Kids love Invisalign because, as the name suggests, they’re virtually impossible to be seen by others. 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 the main drawbacks of Invisalign is that it is not the best solution for patients in more extreme or difficult 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.

So, How Do Retainers Help Teeth?

If you’ve gotten the idea that retainers are not important because they can’t fix crooked teeth, you’ve missed the point! Retainers are very necessary, but they serve a very particular purpose.

Once braces or Invisalign have shifted your child’s teeth to their new, correct locations, the teeth are prone to continue to shift for the months ahead. This is where a retainer comes in. Now that your kid’s teeth are where they should be, they’ll need to wear a retainer for a period of time to ensure that the teeth remain where they’re supposed to for a lifetime.

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 realize that retainers can’t fix crooked teeth, you’ll need to make a decision about where your child should get their overall oral care from. Ideally, you should find 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, you can find an office with this kind of setup. In fact, you can find six of them! Toothfairy Pediatric Dental has six convenient locations in the area. We’re close to where you live, work, and play. Our friendly offices are a welcoming environment for all children, and it’s 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 important part of the overall orthodontic experience? Absolutely! Contact us today at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental so we can set you up for a consultation.

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