Is It Time for Your Teen to Get a Retainer?

Tips for how to make the decision and take care of his retainer down the line.


You've mentally braced yourself for him needing braces. But have you prepped him for the retainer that could follow? A retainer will hold his teeth where they should be while bone tissue grows around them, stabilizing their position. Some are removable and others are fixed (bonded to the teeth). While every mouth is different, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends using a retainer after braces or to correct spacing. Ideally, patients should have their first check-ups before age 7 to detect major problems early on. For more information on retainers, visit


• Always carry it in a retainer case.

• Don’t leave it in a pocket or purse; it could get damaged.

• Avoid heat (and hot cars); the retainer can deform.

• Make sure he brushes his retainer with toothpaste before and after each use.

• Permanent retainers should also be flossed.

• Ask his orthodontist if he should remove his retainer before he eats.