The day that dental braces come off marks a major milestone in the life of any orthodontic patient. However, the removal of braces is not exactly the final phase of orthodontic treatment. After all of the hardware comes off the straightened teeth, a retainer has to be worn to prevent a relapse.

Patients can wear a removable or fixed retainer after their braces come off to keep the teeth in place in the future. A fixed retainer is essentially a thin wire that is carefully bonded to the back of the teeth. A removable retainer is a plastic mouthpiece that must be attached to the teeth via small hooks and clasps. Patients who had braces on the upper and lower rows of teeth may have to wear two separate retainers. Such removable orthodontic appliances have to be custom-made based on a patient’s updated moldings and biting impressions.

Retainers are supposed to exert pressure on the teeth and gums, so patients might initially feel discomfort in their mouth. Our orthodontist will come up with the most appropriate wearing schedule for patients who must wear removable retainers. After the braces come off, it’s highly recommended that a retainer be worn for most of the day, including during sleep. Routine follow-up appointments with our orthodontist will help patients find out if they could change their wearing schedule. During such appointments, the wiring in the retainer can be adjusted to decrease or increase pressure on the teeth that might have relapsed.

Wearing a removable retainer also comes with some new oral hygiene habits. The appliance has to be thoroughly rinsed and washed with warm water on a daily basis. It’s also a good idea to clean the retainer with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Additionally, there are special cleaning solutions that are designed to disinfect the surface of the retainer that most likely has an accumulation of bacteria. To prevent contamination and the accumulation of dirt, a retainer should be stored in a closed container away from direct exposure to heat and sunlight.

When eating outside of the home, it’s a common mistake to take off a retainer and wrap it in tissue paper or a napkin that will likely get thrown out. It’s highly recommended that an appropriate storage case with a label be used to hold a retainer.

After your braces come off, some cosmetic dental procedures might have to be done to restore the appearance of some unsightly teeth. Additionally, brackets and wires that have been on teeth for several years might also leave some noticeable stains and marks. The latest dental whitening procedures can effectively take care of such cosmetic issues that usually occur after the braces are removed.

To learn more about what you can expect once your braces come off, or to see what braces can do for you, visit the office of Dr. Brodie Bowman, DMD in Niceville or Fort Walton Beach. Contact us today to schedule your orthodontic appointment.