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Can Your Child Use a Removable Retainer Instead of a Fixed Brace?

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If you aren't sure whether your child can cope with a fixed brace, then you wonder if they could have a removable retainer brace instead. You may know some parents whose kids have had work done this way, and you may prefer it for your child.

When do orthodontists use removable retainers as braces? Will this kind of brace fix your child's teeth?

What Do Removable Braces Do?

Removable braces look like fixed braces; however, they aren't permanently attached to the teeth. Your child can take them out, although they are supposed to keep them in as much as possible.

Orthodontists use these kinds of braces for various reasons. For example, a removable brace may be an option in the following circumstances:

  • Your child has a minor orthodontic problem that can be corrected with a removable brace.
  • Your orthodontist wants to do some preparation work on the teeth, jaws or bite before they put on a fixed brace.
  • Your child needs immediate bracing for a while but has a mix of baby and permanent teeth that make fixed bracing difficult.

In some cases, removable braces are the only orthodontics a child needs. In others, a child may wear a removable retainer immediately before fixed bracing, or there may be a break between the two brace treatments.

Can Your Child Have Removable Braces?

Removable and fixed braces aren't interchangeable. They don't necessarily do the same jobs. If your child's teeth could be fixed with a removable appliance, then your orthodontist may agree to this treatment.

However, more significant problems may need fixed bracing. While it's relatively easy to shift teeth into new positions, keeping them there can be harder. If your child's teeth need to move a lot, then a removable brace may not be a strong enough solution to make the teeth move and then stay in place, especially if your child keeps sneaking the brace out of their mouth.

So, in a more complex case, a removable retainer wouldn't fix your child's teeth effectively or permanently. Your orthodontist would instead want to use a fixed brace.

If your child is a teenager, then they may be able to wear clear aligning braces. These braces work like fixed braces, but they can be taken out. They won't fix all orthodontic problems, but they do work for some.

Remember that children tend to cope with fixed braces better than their parents think. If you have concerns, talk to your orthodontist.