Finally, after what sometimes felt like forever, you’ve finished your orthodontic adjustments, and your braces are off. Your teeth feel incredibly smooth, and you have a lot more room in your mouth. Your smile is great. How do you ensure that your newly perfect, straight teeth stay that way?
The phase immediately following and for some months after the removal of braces is called “retention.” This is the time when you, your orthodontist and your dentist work together to make sure you retain the new alignment of your teeth. You must follow directions while caring for your teeth during this period.
Wear Your Retainer
It is imperative to wear your retainer so that your teeth maintain their alignment. Teeth can naturally shift over time due to several factors, but immediately after removing hardware, they want to move back to their old formation.
Your retainer will be specially fitted to your mouth to ensure that your orthodontic alignment is retained. Your retainer is custom-made for your specific circumstances. Your orthodontist will explain to you when and how to wear your retainer, how to maintain it and how to keep it clean. Some retainers can be brushed with a toothbrush, and others need to soak in a cleaning solution. It is important to clean your retainer daily so that it does not accumulate germs or smell bad.
Good Oral Hygiene
Your teeth may be a little sensitive. They’ve been covered by your hardware for a long time and are no longer used to being exposed. Be careful when brushing and flossing to avoid uncomfortable twinges while they adjust.
You may see some paler spots on your teeth once the hardware is removed. Resist the urge to immediately have your teeth whitened. You should wait until the enamel sensitivity has gone away before you consider tooth whitening.
Teeth can shift in your mouth over time. This shifting can be made worse by an unhealthy mouth. Poor oral hygiene can cause bone loss, infections and gum disease, which can loosen your teeth and lead them to shift to new (or go back to old) positions. Maintain a good oral hygiene routine. You should brush, floss and use mouthwash as your dentist directs.
Regular Dental Care
After your braces come off, see your regular dentist for a thorough cleaning and examination. There will be places that he was not able to reach before the braces came off that now will need to be cleaned. You may find that you need some additional follow-up dental care. Any food left stuck in the wires, or lack of cleaning can cause cavities. Sometimes even with your best efforts, a cavity may form around or behind the hardware. Now that your teeth are uncovered, you should have this treated.
Go to your regular checkups. This helps you maintain oral health, and your dentist can detect if any shifting is occurring in plenty of time to correct it. Your dentist will remind you of the directions for retainer use and follow-up care, ensuring that your teeth are healthy and beautiful for a long time.
If you need to have a tooth pulled (or lose one due to decay or trauma), your teeth will try to shift around the space. Talk with your dentist and orthodontist about how to keep your alignment if you lose a tooth.
Over time, poor nutrition can weaken your bones, immune system and overall health. In your mouth, that may mean loosened teeth, tooth shifting, or gum infections which can loosen teeth. Be careful about sugary drinks and highly processed foods. Eat a healthy diet to maintain oral health.
Dr. Stefanie Dougherty of Dougherty Orthodontics is a highly qualified orthodontist with years of experience and training in her field. Her expert team works hard to make sure you feel comfortable during all phases of your treatment plan and want to make sure you feel like part of the Dougherty family. If you’re ready to choose braces and start your journey to a new smile, contact Dougherty Orthodontics at (636) 825-1000 for your complimentary consultation.