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4 Ways to Get Kids in the Habit of Wearing Retainers or Aligners

By July 8, 2022November 3rd, 2023Invisalign, Orthodontics

Did your kiddo recently start orthodontic treatment with clear aligners, or did they recently switch to a retainer after getting braces taken off? If you’re like many of the parents of our Kelowna orthodontic patients, you might be wondering what you can do to encourage your child to wear their new appliance. First of all, remember that starting any orthodontic treatment is a big adjustment for kids, especially when it’s a removable appliance. Unlike with braces, kids have to remember to wear their aligners or retainers for a set number of hours per day, so it can take a bit of time to get into the habit.

If your child is struggling to get used to wearing their retainer or aligners, this post is for you. The Straight Smiles team is sharing our top tips to help your kids get the most out of their treatment. Read on!

Why Does My Child Have to Wear a Retainer After Braces?

First things first, you might be wondering why your child has to wear a retainer after braces anyway. There’s a common misconception that once braces come off, your newly straightened teeth are, well, permanently straightened. In reality, it takes a bit more time to solidify your smile once you get your braces off. Without the brackets and wires to hold the teeth in their new positions, it’s natural for them to gradually want to shift back to where they started, a process known as orthodontic relapse. A retainer literally helps to retain your new smile so you can enjoy your perfectly straight teeth for life. To prevent orthodontic relapse, your child will have to wear a retainer for at least 12 hours, in the evenings and overnight.

A Note on Invisalign Teen Aligners

Similarly to orthodontic retainers, Invisalign Teen must be worn for at least 22 hours a day to get the most benefit from treatment. Best case scenario, your child should only remove the aligners to eat, brush or floss, or drink anything other than water. As for after they’ve finished their Invisalign Teen treatment, your child will also have to wear a retainer. Fortunately, they’ll already be used to using a removable appliance so switching to a retainer should be a breeze!

Tips to Create Healthy Retainer (or Aligner) Habits

So how can you help your kids remember to wear their orthodontic appliance? Here are our favorite ways to establish good habits from day one.

  1. Use a temporary rewards system: For some kids, giving small rewards for wearing their aligners or retainers can go a long way. For example, you could try giving your child a special treat when they remember to wear their aligners or retainer overnight for a full week. The specific reward will vary depending on what your family is comfortable with. Once your child develops the habit of wearing their appliance appropriately, it will feel natural to them and you’ll be able to gradually ditch the reward.
  2. Leave reminders around the house: Kids often don’t wear their retainers or aligners because they simply forget. Help them remember by leaving little reminders — this could be Post-its on the bathroom mirror, or notes in their lunchbox or gym bag to remind them to put their appliance back in after eating or playing sports.
  3. Keep their appliance and its container in a safe place: It can be easy for kids to misplace or damage their retainers or Invisalign Teen aligners if they don’t have a specific place to store them. Keeping a case on hand will ensure that their appliance is safe and easy to find when they need to put it back in. Lost aligners or retainers aren’t a big deal — we can fit your child for a new one — but they can set Invisalign treatment back or put your child at higher risk for orthodontic relapse. So encourage your kids and teens to keep their appliance safely in its dedicated container whenever they take it out!

Need more support on getting your child to comply with their retainer or Invisalign Teen treatment? We’re just a click or a phone call away. Contact Straight Smiles to book an appointment with Dr. James Scramstad today.

Dr. James Scramstad

Author Dr. James Scramstad

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