It’s finally time to get your braces off! Many patients plan to celebrate or have something special to eat and drink to mark the occasion. You head off for your debonding appointment. Just like that, your teeth are smooth and straight. You look at them and marvel. It’s been a long time since your smile looked so good. It’s been a long road, but the reward is worth every second. Perfectly aligned, stunning teeth that have instantly boosted your confidence. It really is amazing. And then, something unexpected happens. Your orthodontist puts a bit of a downer on your celebrations. He or she wants to talk retainers for your top and bottom teeth after braces. You’ve just had your braces removed. It’s probably the last thing you want to talk about.
But, keeping those teeth straight and healthy after braces is important. Here are 7 things you can do to take care of your top and bottom teeth after braces.
Professional Cleaning for Top and Bottom Teeth After Braces
As soon as those braces come off, contact your general dentist for a professional cleaning. It means you’ll get to walk out of the office with stain-free, shining teeth that are perfectly straight. We know it’s tricky to keep your teeth sparkling and care for your braces while the brackets are still on. Sometimes there will be surface stains left from coffee, tea and strongly coloured foods and drinks.
You’ll want to get a cleaning for your gum health too. Flossing is trickier with braces so it is possible your regime hasn’t been quite as good as usual. Book in for a thorough cleaning to remove any tartar that has accumulated in hard-to-reach areas around or even below the gum line.
You’ll also want your dentist to have a thorough inspection of your teeth without the braces in the way. He or she may also take X-rays that might have been postponed until after braces. Your orthodontist is a specialist in tooth movement, but your general dentist is important to diagnose and manage other issues including tooth decay and gum disease.
Consider Professional Teeth Whitening
Besides a good cleaning, it’s a good time to talk about professional whitening if this is something you have been interested in. In-office whitening treatments are quick and effective. It’s a great way to treat yourself when the braces come off. You’ll already be smiling and keen to show off your new smile; having it bright and white adds to the excitement of your makeover. A professional whitening treatment is fast, easy and fuss-free. This is done at your regular dentist office rather than with your specialist orthodontist.
Prepare to Wear a Retainer
As soon as the braces come off, your orthodontist will arrange a retainer. The retainer holds the teeth in a perfectly straight position – just the way the braces left them. It may sound a little disheartening, but weeks and even months after the braces come off is when your teeth are at most risk of moving. The last thing you want is to see them move back into a crooked position after such a long time of diligently wearing your braces.
Wearing a retainer is an important part of caring for your teeth after braces. The lower bottom teeth seem to be particularly vulnerable to moving. This is true of all of us; whether you’ve had braces or not – as you age your teeth can begin to shift – especially those front bottom ones.
You might have to wear the retainer all the time at first and eventually only wear it at night. We urge you to keep wearing it as long as possible to ensure you stand out from the crowd with amazing, perfect teeth for the rest of your life – not just for a year or so post-braces.
Daily Healthcare for Your Top and Bottom Teeth After Braces
Your braces treatment was a big and valuable investment in your teeth and overall health. Now that your teeth are beautifully straight, you need to implement a good routine of daily oral health care to maintain that amazing smile.
Brush your teeth twice a day. Remember to change your toothbrush every three to four months, or when the bristles fray.
Floss every day. This helps to get rid of plaque and other bits of food that your toothbrush cannot reach. Don’t forget to floss each space between each tooth.
Clean your retainer at least twice a day when wearing it full time. Otherwise clean it daily whilst wearing it for night wear.
Rinse your mouth out with water after eating sugary foods and dark drinks like coffee and red wine that can stain your teeth.
Watch Those Stress Levels
Believe it or not, your stress levels can significantly affect your dental health. Stress is bad enough. But, it can also make you more likely to grind your teeth or clench your jaw, especially when you are asleep. What’s more, stress can cause you to unconsciously clench those jaw muscles, causing discomfort, muscle spasm and affecting how the joint works.
Tensing, grinding and clenching are all painful symptoms. But, they are treatable. The best medicine, though, is preventative dental care. That means getting to the root of the problem. For many people, that may well be stress.
Whilst you are keen to look after your teeth you have invested in – be careful that that enthusiasm does not turn into over-zealousness. Gum recession happens when the tissue around your teeth is pushed back or wears away. Sometimes it can expose the roots of the teeth. You can minimise the risk of gum recession by:
Avoid grinding or clenching your teeth (speak to your general dentist if you suspect you may be doing this)
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and use gentle pressure – avoid rough scrubbing of the gums
Follow Up Appointments
Once the braces are off, you may need a few follow up appointments with your orthodontist. This is usually to ensure your retainer fits correctly and that it is doing its job. Most people need to wear their retainers for an extended period of time to prevent teeth from shifting back to a crooked position. If you don’t wear yours for a few nights, you may notice that it feels tighter or a little out of place when you wear it again. That’s because your teeth can shift out of alignment so quickly.
Keep Your Smile Beautiful
Once you walk out of the office, everyone will notice your beautiful, braces-free smile. Getting your braces off is a massive change, and your friends and family will take note, especially now that they see how even your teeth are.
If you have braces or are thinking about it, that end-result of a straight and bright smile should be motivation enough to take care of your top and bottom teeth after braces. It will help keep your teeth straight, bright and absolutely gorgeous. Be sure to wear your retainer as instructed and keep up a daily oral health routine that’s good for you.
Talk to Fine Orthodontics if you would like more information on gaining – or maintaining – your new smile.
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