Good dental care is just as important after you take your braces off as while you’re wearing them. You worked so hard with the braces for so long. You suffered and pulled through. If you don’t take care of your teeth post braces, it will all be for nothing. Learn proper post-orthodontic hygiene habits in order to keep your teeth healthy and straight for the rest of your life.
Why do you have to take care of your teeth after you remove your braces?
There are a few challenges people deal with after their braces come off, so it is important to be diligent about your dental hygiene habits and maintenance. It is often thought that after you remove your braces, the job is done – your teeth will be straight forever. However, this is a misconception. Extra care must be taken to maintain a straight smile. The most compelling reasons to take special care of your teeth after your braces come off are to:
- Ensure your teeth remain straight without the braces
- Avoid tooth stains and plaque build-up near where the brackets used to be
At Smiles Unlimited, we help many patients avoid or manage these complications. Here’s what you can do in the months and years after your braces come off…
1. Wear your retainer as directed
Our teeth have a natural tendency to move back to their original position after a tooth straightening procedure. In fact, your teeth are at the biggest risk of moving back in the first few weeks and months after your braces come off.
Your retainer keeps your teeth in their new, aligned position. You don’t want to undo all those months of wearing and caring for your braces! Always wear your retainer as instructed by your orthodontist.
Here’s what to expect with a retainer: Your orthodontist will most likely take impressions of your teeth as soon as your braces are off. The impression is used to make your retainers. Most orthodontists will tell you to wear your retainers full-time to start, and eventually transition to wearing them only at night. It may take a week or so to get used to wearing your retainer, but soon you’ll hardly even notice it’s there.
2. Take good care of your retainers
Clean your retainers at least once a day or as instructed by your dental care provider. You don’t want to put a bacteria-filled retainer back into a freshly-brushed mouth.
Many retainers can be easily cleaned in the sink with regular toothpaste and a toothbrush. However, for other retainers, you may need to use mouthwash or denture cleaner. If you’re not sure, ask your orthodontist about the best method for keeping your retainers clean.
Pro tip: Carry a retainer case with you all the time. During meals, many people simply wrap their retainer in a napkin and set it aside. This is how retainers often get accidentally thrown away! A plastic retainer case is much less likely to be mistaken for an old napkin and get tossed.
3. Get a thorough professional cleaning and exam
If you’ve had braces, you know how difficult it can be to brush and floss well. The longer you’ve had your braces, the more likely it is that plaque and stains have accumulated and settled on your teeth. A professional dental hygiene appointment is the best way to remove them, and there’s no better time for a thorough cleaning and exam than right after braces.
Now that your teeth are beautifully straight, let’s get them sparkling clean and stain-free!
4. Be diligent about your at-home dental routine
You’ve made a big investment in your teeth. Good daily dental hygiene habits will help you maintain a healthy and beautiful smile you’re proud to show off.
How should you care for your teeth after braces?
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or when the bristles appear frayed. Learn how to brush properly.
- Floss once a day to remove plaque and food particles that your toothbrush can’t reach. Make sure to floss every single space between teeth.
- Mouthwash is optional, but if your teeth need a little more protection than just brushing and flossing, talk to your dentist about the best mouthwash options for you.
- Clean your retainers. Make this part of your daily routine. Once it becomes a habit, it won’t feel like a bother anymore.
- Rinse your mouth with water regularly. Rinse with water after you eat anything sugary and after coffee, tea, and other stain-causing foods. This helps prevent stains and keeps your teeth white.
5. Optional: Try a teeth whitening treatment
Treat yourself to a professional whitening! You’ve spent months ( maybe years) wearing braces and now that big moment you’ve been waiting for is finally here — your braces are coming off!
It’s not uncommon for people to see their new, straight teeth for the first time and feel a little disappointed when they see yellowing, stains, and other discolorations that can occur during orthodontic treatments. After all your patience and hard work, professional teeth whitening is a great way to put that sparkle back into your smile.
You can also incorporate a whitening toothpaste into your care routine to help improve the appearance of your teeth slowly.