Everyone looks forward to the day when their braces come off. That said, what can you expect during and after getting braces off? Will getting them off be painful? Will your teeth still hurt sometimes afterward? And what’s the deal with retainers? How long do you wear retainers for?
All of these are common questions. Here’s your guide, then, to Life After Braces.
Before Getting Braces Off: How to Prepare
You will likely have a set appointment with your orthodontist to finally remove your (or your child’s) braces. Be aware, though, that there might well be reasons to postpone the removal. For example, if your teeth have not moved adequately, or there appears to be a complication, your Orthodontist might want to delay things for a few weeks. Be flexible.
Before that appointment, be sure to keep up with the oral care. How your teeth will look without braces depends a lot on how well you took care of them with the braces on! It is not uncommon for teeth to have yellow tartar or stains on them that become much more noticeable once the braces are off. A clean mouth also makes the process of getting braces off much easier.
Finally, feel free to brag a little: Take a selfie of yourself with your braces for a “before” picture, so you can compare and post with the “after” pic later!
How Braces are Taken Off
Your orthodontist will have to remove each band and bracket individually. While this is a quicker process than attaching them in the first place, it still takes time to do the job right.
One common question we hear is: Does getting braces off hurt? For the most part, the process is pretty painless. Many people report a feeling of relief once the bands and wires are gone. Some force might be needed, though, and so spots that are already sensitive or tender might cause a little pain, but only for a moment.
When the brackets themselves come off, it is not unusual to hear some cracking sounds. Don’t panic; this is likely the cement between the bracket and your tooth cracking under force. Your teeth are tougher than this cement, so they should be fine.
In fact, some of this cement might be left on your teeth once the brackets themselves are off. So be prepared for some scraping. (This usually isn’t painful, but it does make noise and can feel a little weird.)
What to Expect, and What to Do, After Getting Braces Off
After getting braces off, many patients report that their mouth feels different. And it should! After all, your teeth have been realigned and new space made. Your bite will be different. Chances are you also got used to having your braces on; feeling the surface of your teeth for the first time in a while will feel weird for a couple of days.
Some patients also report a bit of pain after getting braces removed. This especially happens if braces are removed too early. For the most part, the pain and sensitivity go away in a few days. If yours (or your child’s) does not, call your orthodontist as soon as possible.
In some rare cases, people will find odd bits of cement still stuck to their teeth. These patches can feel rough or sharp. Be sure to tell your orthodontist immediately so that they can be removed.
In order to preserve that great smile you just invested good money in, your orthodontist will likely have you fitted for a retainer. It is common for people to wear a retainer for years after getting their braces off. The good news is that most retainers are removable, so you can eat, talk, and appear in public without them. Some people wear their retainers only at night.
In general, you will need to follow your orthodontist’s advice when it comes to the retainer. There are some good general guidelines to follow:
- Take care of your retainer. Most retainers are custom molded and expensive to make. If your retainer is lost or broken, it can add substantially to your bill.
- Clean your retainer often and well. A retainer can harbor bacteria just as easily as any surface in your mouth. Be sure to clean out any food particles often, and give the surfaces a good brushing at least twice a day.
- Wear it as often as you can. Wearing your retainer more will not hurt you. But wearing it less than the recommended amount could allow your teeth to slip back out of alignment. So try to build the habit of wearing it when you can.
Finally, don’t forget to take lots of “after” pictures to show off your new smile!
Want to Find Out More?
We understand that you have a lot of questions when it comes to braces and the process of getting them on… and getting them off. We want you to feel comfortable with that process. The best way to do that is to find out what’s involved and stay informed.
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