Getting braces off can be extremely exciting. It feels like the end of a long chapter. You also may be thinking that you are free, but don’t be mistaken – your teeth won’t stay straight unless you follow the instructions your orthodontist gives you on how to maintain your newly aligned smile. At Red Rocks Orthodontics, we have compiled this guide for understanding what comes after braces are removed.

Life After Braces: The Next Steps

Life After Braces: The Removal Process 

The process of getting your braces removed is not a painful one. However, it can be a bit uncomfortable and leave you with mild soreness. This is because your teeth used to have added pressure to them. Now that nothing is holding them together, they may feel sensitive for a few days. Consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever prior to your appointment to help prevent any sensitivity or soreness that may occur. To make the process easier and smoother for you and your orthodontist, we recommend brushing your teeth before your appointment. Once you are at your appointment, the orthodontist will use a metal device to loosen the brackets on your teeth. This usually pops your braces right off. Then, the orthodontist will remove any adhesive residue that is remaining on the surface of your teeth. 

Wearing a Retainer After Braces Removal

After your braces come off, your orthodontist will take impressions of your teeth and may take some x-rays to fit you for a custom-made retainer. Because your teeth are used to being in motion, they are relatively unstable after the braces removal process. To hold your teeth in their new position and keep your bite in place, your orthodontist will instruct you on how to wear and take care of your retainer correctly. Although being responsible for another mouth appliance can be inconvenient, it is pertinent to keeping your smile healthy. 

After Braces, What’s Next? 

There are three types of retainers. Your orthodontist will determine which is best for you and your needs. Regardless of the type of retainer, they all will help your teeth settle into their new place. 

Bonded retainers are also known as permanent retainers. This type of retainer is typically used for patients whose teeth need extra security to help them stabilize. Bonded retainers are exactly what they sound like — bonded to your teeth with a specific glue. 

You may wear a permanent retainer for the rest of your life. While they have many benefits, like not losing or damaging them, permanent retainers do make oral hygiene a little trickier. If you notice that your bonded retainer has shifted, make an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible. 

Hawley retainers are more familiarly recognized as removable retainers or wire retainers. Hawley retainers are made of a plastic shell that molds to the roof of your mouth. 

The benefits to removable retainers include: 

  • Taking them out easily at any time, like eating or brushing your teeth. 
  • Easy to clean. 
  • More convenient for oral hygiene habits like flossing. 

However, some orthodontists may be cautious about using this type of retainer if they fear their patient will lose it. Make sure you always put the retainer in its proper case when eating, so it does not get accidentally thrown in the trash! 

While clear, removable retainers look similar to clear aligners such as Invisalign, they are different. Retainers are designed specifically to prevent your teeth from moving out of their new position, whereas Invisalign’s purpose is to move your teeth. 

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No matter the type of retainer you receive, the key factor is to wear it as instructed and clean it regularly. Your orthodontist will choose the best retainer for you based on your orthodontic needs. For more help, feel free to reach out to us and schedule an appointment!