You’ve waited months, maybe even years, for your braces to come off. You might’ve suffered discomfort, food cravings for off-limit snacks, or felt self-conscious about your treatment. But you stuck it out; you finished! Our entire team at Hunter Family Orthodontics is so proud of you! Not only did you commit to bettering yourself, but you also put in the work to make it happen! That’s amazing!
Now that you have your braces off, you might wonder, “How can I preserve or continue to improve my smile when I’m not in active treatment?”
There are a few things you can do in the retention phase (the process of keeping the teeth in their positions after active treatment ends) to retain your alignment. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant.
Maintain your oral hygiene routine.
Throughout your braces treatment, we stressed the importance of oral hygiene. Completing active treatment is not a good reason to start slacking on your oral hygiene routine. Here is a quick list of good practices you should continue or begin after the removal of your braces.
- Brush and floss twice a day!
- Use quality toothpaste and mouthwash! The right products can make a huge difference in your routine. If your toothpaste and mouthwash are too harsh, they could do more harm than good! Ask Dr. Hunter or your dentist for recommendations.
- Avoid over brushing or brushing too hard. These practices can strip teeth of their protective enamel and wear down the gum line. An electric toothbrush with an automatic timer and pressure sensor can help improve your brushing technique.
- Rinse the mouth with water after meals to remove any residue that could stick to or stain the teeth.
- Make changes to your diet if necessary. Try to avoid sugary or acidic substances because they can erode the enamel and cause tooth decay, among other effects.
- Continue using your water flosser (or invest in one if you haven’t already). These devices use water to rid the mouth of any bacteria, plaque, or food that brushing and flossing might miss. They are especially useful for getting to those hard-to-reach places.
- Remember to replace your toothbrush every three months and change the tip of your water flosser every six months.
Keeping up with your oral hygiene reduces the amount of plaque and bacteria in the mouth that causes bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease or other infections, and even tooth loss! Everyone’s oral care needs are different, so don’t hesitate to ask our team or your dental provider for guidance on upgrading your regimen!
Retainers keep your teeth in line — literally!
After your braces are removed, you will be given a custom-made retainer. Retainers can be removable, like the Hawley and essix designs, or fixed. These orthodontic appliances are meant to hold your teeth in their final positions. When we apply pressure to teeth to move them, it causes what we call the remodeling process. That’s what allows the movement!
Unfortunately, teeth have an amazing memory and are usually unhappy about being moved. Since the mouth needs a little more time after treatment to become situated, your teeth try to take advantage of that and move back to their original positions. That’s why it is necessary to wear your removable retainer as instructed! Neglecting or forgetting to wear your retainer often could result in a restart of active treatment.
Clean and protect your retainer.
In order for your retainer to safely and effectively do its job, it needs to be clean and in good physical condition! Luckily, they don’t require much upkeep.
The process for cleaning your retainer depends on the kind of retainer you have, so be sure to ask Dr. Hunter for maintenance instructions when he gives you your appliance. The good news is that no matter which retainer you use, they only take a few minutes to clean!
When your retainer isn’t being worn, you should place it in the protective carrying case. You might be surprised how many retainers are left behind in restaurants, stepped on, or chewed up by a curious pet! Placing your retainer in its case decreases the chance of losing it and safeguards it against physical damage and germs.
Proper care increases the likelihood that you’ll wear it, too. An unclean retainer develops an uninviting smell, and a damaged retainer is uncomfortable. While a retainer can always be replaced, we encourage you to take good care of it to meet your smile goals.
Go to your follow-ups and dental cleanings!
Once in retention, you will need to see Dr. Hunter for follow-up appointments so he can monitor your alignment stability and ensure that your retainers are working as intended. These are typically quick and easy, so they won’t take up much of your day.
Another crucial step to a happy, healthy smile is regular dental cleanings! We know you are working hard on keeping your mouth clean from home, but dental cleanings are essential! At these appointments, your mouth will be professionally cleaned and X-rayed. Your dentist will check for any signs of infection, tooth decay, or illness. If necessary, they will also administer treatment and create a prevention plan with you. Attending these appointments allows your dentist to find issues before they permanently damage your smile.
Come see us at Hunter Family Orthodontics!
We know that your orthodontic journey does not end the day we remove your braces. At Hunter Family Orthodontics, we are dedicated to providing you with fantastic care from the moment you place your first phone call and beyond.
If you need an orthodontic check-up, a new retainer, or just have questions about retention and oral hygiene, please get in touch with us to speak to our knowledgeable staff or book an appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon!