retainersFinally, after what 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 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. It is very important that you follow the directions provided by Wake Orthodontics while caring for your teeth during this period.

Wear Your Retainer

You must wear your retainer so that your teeth maintain their alignment. Teeth can naturally shift over time due to a number of factors, but for the period immediately following removal of hardware, they want to move back to their old pre-braces position.

Your retainer will be specially fitted to your mouth to ensure that your personal 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 kinds of retainers can be brushed with a toothbrush, and others need to soaked 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 be 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 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 empty space. Talk with your dentist and orthodontist about how to keep your alignment if you lose a tooth.

Eat Healthy

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.

Removing your braces is a huge milestone, so work to keep those gains you made and enjoy a healthy smile for years to come!  Make your appointment with Wake Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry to discuss your post orthodontic care more thoroughly.