Today’s the day! You’re getting your braces off after months, perhaps even years! At Howard Orthodontics, we know you put in a lot of work — avoiding certain foods and wearing your rubber bands, for example — to get to this point, and we’re proud of you!
When we take off your braces, you will be moving from active treatment into the retention phase, which is the process of keeping the teeth in their final positions after you finish active treatment. Let’s review some things you can do to continue achieving your smile goals once your braces are gone!
Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine!
We know it can be easy to become relaxed with your oral hygiene routine when there aren’t metal brackets and wires covering your teeth. But you must be as diligent as ever to preserve your pearly whites! Remember:
- Brush and floss!
- Use quality toothpaste and mouthwash! You want to avoid harsh products that can erode your enamel and wear down the gum line.
- Don’t overbrush or brush too hard, as it can wear down your enamel and gum line. You may want to try an electric toothbrush with an automatic timer and pressure sensor to help improve your routine.
- Use a water flosser! These devices are perfect for removing anything left behind by brushing and thread flossing and getting to those hard-to-reach places.
- Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three months and the tip of your water flosser every six months. Over time they collect germs and bacteria and become less effective at their jobs.
Proper oral hygiene rids the mouth of bacteria, plaque, and germs that can cause bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss! A few minutes twice a day is all you need to keep your teeth healthy and shiny! Please don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Howard or your dentist for product recommendations and personalized guidance to improve your regimen.
Please wear your retainer!
Your teeth have amazing location memories and are usually unhappy to have been moved. When we take your braces off, your teeth will try to return to their original positions. That’s where your fixed or removable retainers come in! As the name suggests, these orthodontic appliances are designed to retain the teeth in their new positions as the mouth stabilizes.
We realize that it can be hard to feel motivated or excited to wear your removable retainer after the thrill of finishing active treatment. However, the more you wear your retainer at the beginning of retention, the less you will need to wear your retainer later! While it is unlikely that you will ever not need it, wearing it as prescribed is crucial to keeping your teeth in line — literally! Neglecting or forgetting to wear your retainer gives the teeth time and space to regress. If they shift enough, you might need to restart active treatment.
Take good care of your retainer!
You will wear your retainer a lot and need it for a long time. Though we can replace your retainer if necessary, they are built to last if treated with care! Proper maintenance also increases the likelihood that you will wear it, which is an essential part of retainer treatment! Unclean retainers can develop an unpleasant taste and smell, and damaged ones are uncomfortable.
There are three kinds of retainers: the essix and Hawley, which are both removable, and the fixed retainer. Just like your mouth, a retainer can accumulate harmful bacteria and germs, so cleanliness is a must for oral health! How to care for your retainer depends on the type you have, so be sure to ask Dr. Howard for instructions when you receive your orthodontic appliance.
When your removable retainers are not in your mouth, they should be in their protective case! You might be surprised to find out how many retainers are in restaurant or movie theater trashcans or floors. You might also become disgusted when you find your pet chewing on your retainers! Placing your retainers in their case is an easy yet effective way to safeguard them from physical damage and germs!
Go to follow-ups and dental cleanings!
In retention, you will be expected to come to follow-up appointments at Howard Orthodontics so we can monitor your teeth’s stability and ensure that the retainer is doing its job. These are especially important in the first few months of retention when the teeth are most likely to regress!
We must also encourage you to attend dental cleanings. Dental cleanings are routine yearly appointments where your mouth will be cleaned professionally and X-rayed. Your dentist will also check for signs of tooth decay or disease. If necessary, your dentist will administer treatment and devise a prevention plan. Dentists are vital to your mouth’s oral healthcare and protecting your smile after braces. Attending these appointments consistently and on time means your dental provider can find issues before they cause lasting damage to your smile.
We look forward to seeing you at Howard Orthodontics!
At Howard Orthodontics, we know your orthodontic journey lasts a lifetime. That’s why we are dedicated to providing you and your family with excellent care and customer service from the moment you place your first phone call with us and beyond. Dr. Howard and his team have had a blast getting to know you while sharing the orthodontic world with you and watching your smile transform. If you have any questions about oral healthcare, need a retention checkup, or require a replacement retainer, please contact us to speak to one of our passionate staff members or book an appointment!