You’ve finally done it! After months or possibly years of wearing and maintaining your braces or other orthodontic appliances, such as Invisalign, you are finally free to return to your natural teeth. Not so fast though. As your Puyallup cosmetic dentistry professionals will tell you, braces are the first step in a lifetime of proper oral care. Want to keep those newly straightened teeth in mint condition? Here are your top post-orthodontic care tips.
Getting Your Braces Removed
At the start of your orthodontic treatment, your Puyallup cosmetic dentistry specialist will have given you a general timeline for when your braces may be removed. This timeline may shift based on a range of factors, including how quickly your teeth and jaw are responding to treatment. Eventually, during one of your regular visits to your Puyallup cosmetic dentistry clinic, you will be advised that at your next treatment, your braces are ready to removed. This procedure lasts about an hour and is essentially painless. Once the braces are removed and any remaining glue is scraped off your teeth, a mold will be taken of your teeth so you can get a custom-built retainer.
The Purpose of a Retainer
Once your braces are off, your teeth may have a tendency to want to return to their former state. A retainer is a (generally) removable appliance that keeps your newly aligned teeth in place. A retainer is custom designed for your mouth, however it may feel a little tight when you first put it in, and may take some getting used to when speaking.
When your braces are first removed, your Puyallup cosmetic dentistry professionals will recommend you keep your retainer in at all times, except for meals or perhaps for a special evening where you don’t want it visible. Eventually, you may be able to stop wearing your retainer during the day and only wear it at night. Your Puyallup cosmetic dentistry professionals may even allow you to stop wearing it altogether – however you shouldn’t remove your retainer until you have been given permission to do so. Failure to wear your retainer can undo all of the hard work your braces have done. Keep in mind that even if you do wear your retainer as instructed, your teeth will typically shift slightly right after your braces are removed – but these are expected shifts, ones your Puyallup cosmetic dentists want to see happen as they can be the final component of correcting your bite in particular.
Your retainer is a valuable part of your post-orthodontic care routine, but it also requires additional attention. When you have your retainer out of your mouth, be wary of where you place it. Many people will put it on a napkin next to their meal, only to accidentally throw it out! Put your retainer in the case provided by your Puyallup cosmetic dentistry specialists.
Your retainer also needs to be cleaned regularly, as the same bacteria that builds up on your teeth can just as easily find a home on your retainer. Take an extra toothbrush with soft bristles and a bit of gentle toothpaste (like those for kids or a natural brand) and brush the retainer regularly. You may also want to ask your Puyallup cosmetic dentistry clinic about a denture or retainer cleanser that you can soak your retainer in on a weekly basis for a deep, thorough clean. Before putting your retainer back in your mouth, be sure to give it a good rinse under running water.
Post-Braces Tooth Care
If you took proper care of your teeth during your orthodontic treatment, your teeth should be in good shape. However, if you were unable to brush or floss properly, you may find yellow tartar marks or ‘scars’ on your teeth, particularly around where your brackets were previously attached. If this is the case, talk to your Puyallup cosmetic dentistry professionals about your options for teeth whitening, veneers, or crowns. Note that you should wait for at least a month after having your braces removed before pursuing teeth whitening, as your concealed enamel needs some time to rebuild its strength.
Some patients find their gums become swollen while their braces are on or shortly after they are off – this is likely due to a buildup of bacteria that can irritate the gums and lead to gingivitis or even periodontal disease. This buildup is typically the outcome of being unable to effectively brush all of your tooth surfaces, particularly where the tooth meets the gum. The good news is, it can be reversed. Once your braces are off, you should have no problem brushing this area properly and your gums should return to normal within a few weeks of having your braces removed. If the problem is persistent however, talk to your Puyallup cosmetic dentistry professionals about your options.
No matter what, you should find that after braces, taking care of your teeth is easier than ever – so take advantage of it. Be sure to brush and floss your teeth regularly, and schedule a dental cleaning with your Puyallup cosmetic dentistry professionals shortly after your braces are removed to eliminate any built-up bacteria.