Caring for your child's retainer

If your little one has been assigned a retainer to wear as part of her orthodontia, it probably means...

If your little one has been assigned a retainer to wear as part of her orthodontia, it probably means you're close to the end of fussing with braces and fixing crooked teeth or warped bites. Of course, unlike braces, your child's new tool can be removed, which means it's a perfect time to teach a little extra responsibility. Putting your child in charge of her own dental tools means she can be in charge of cleaning, soaking and yes, finding it when it goes missing.

Cleaning. Most types of retainers can be scrubbed down when your child is brushing her teeth. She'll need to remove the piece and clean it thoroughly to remove bits of food, but it's a simple process that even small kids can do. However, always check with your orthodontist before you use regular toothpaste; some materials require a different type of cleaner. Sometimes, an orthodontist will also suggest soaking in denture cleaner.

Soaking. The plastic that makes up the flat piece of your child's shiny new orthodontia can become brittle over time, resulting in cracks; ouch! Keep a glass of water beside your child's bed where she can drop it before she goes to sleep. Whenever it'll be out of her mouth for an extended period of time, soaking is your best bet to keep the plastic pliable.

Losing. Unlike braces, a retainer is in and out of the mouth throughout the day, so there's a really good chance that your child could lose hers. In fact, you can purchase insurance places through your dentist or orthodontist's office to cover lost pieces. Teach your child to always place it in the same spot when it's removed or to use a case. That way, if you end up having to dumpster dive for one that's been accidentally tossed, it's at least clean when you fish it out again.

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