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Smile Elements Orthodontics Blog

Life After Braces: How Do I Keep My Great New Smile?

Posted by Dr. Hisham Badawi | January 16 2020

Orthodontic treatment is the best way to get a straight smile, but once the orthodontic appliances are off, your teeth can start to miss the way they used to be. This means that once the pressure has been taken off of them and they’re no longer being forced to maintain their new position, they may start to shift.

This is just one of the main problems that orthodontic patients can potentially face post treatment. The guide below will show you exactly how to retain your great new smile once you’ve achieved it, so you can kiss your braces or clear aligners goodbye for life!


Wear Your Retainer As Instructed

If you’ve ever been fitted for a traditional metal retainer, you’re likely already familiar with how the process goes. Once your braces are removed or your clear aligners are no longer necessary, your orthodontist is going to create a retainer for you that is intended to maintain your straight smile.

Your orthodontist will take impressions of your teeth, and then send them away to the lab to be constructed. These retainers are extremely important to wear, and technically still a part of your integral orthodontic treatment.

In most cases, you won’t have to wear your retainer for long periods of time. Though the wear schedule is on a case by case basis, most orthodontists will recommend that you wear your retainer every night while you sleep, at a minimum. This will leave you with your brand new smile, completely free of appliances or metal throughout the day, leaving you to wear it only while you sleep! On most nights, you likely won’t even notice it’s there.

As we mentioned earlier in the blog, your teeth will naturally attempt to glide back into their previous positions; unfortunately, this can’t be helped. With a complete lack of braces or any appliance positioned there to prevent this, you could actually lose your straight smile over time. This is why it’s so important to wear your retainer on a regular basis - after spending all that time enduring your orthodontic treatment, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure your smile stays perfectly intact.


Be Kind To Your Retainer

The rule of thumb here is to treat your retainer like you would your teeth, and ensure that it’s always clean and protected. The easiest thing you can do for it is ensure it’s stored in a cool, dry place to prevent it becoming warped or damaged in any way. Make sure it’s always in its’ assigned case when it isn’t being used, and that it isn’t left in direct sunlight.

You should also assign it a great hygiene routine, much like you do with your teeth. You should brush your retainer thoroughly at least once a day with unscented antibacterial soap to remove any debris or plaque that may be stuck to its’ surface. If your mouth is kept clean and healthy but you continue to return an unclean retainer into your mouth each night, you could be unintentionally jeopardizing your oral health.

As important as it is to brush your retainer, it’s also important to soak it. There are cleaning solutions you can purchase to immerse your retainer in, which you can do weekly to ensure optimal cleanliness. Mouthwash works as a good alternative, too - just make sure you do it once every few days!


Always Brush Your Teeth Before Putting Your Retainer In

This tip will be kept short and sweet; it’s important that your teeth are clean before your retainer is put in for the night! Remember that your teeth and retainer work in accordance with one another, and depend on the cleanliness of the other in order to properly function. If both areas are regularly cleaned and kept that way, you should have no problems keeping your smile perfectly intact!


Don’t Forget About Your Dental Checkups

You may be a little tired of booking those hygiene appointments, especially after having a long orthodontic treatment, but they continue to be important even after your braces have been removed.

Especially once you’ve improved your smile and taken all of those important, crucial steps towards a better quality of life, the last thing you’ll want to do is let your oral hygiene fall through the cracks. It’s crucial that you continue to see your general dentist once every six months for a deep cleaning of your teeth, and so they can ensure your teeth haven’t moved and everything is going according to plan.

Skipping your hygiene appointments typically leads to plaque and tartar building up on the surface of your teeth, and can easily pave the way to other oral health problems. Contrary to popular belief, the toothbrush and toothpaste you buy isn’t capable of scraping hardened tartar from your teeth. Some also subscribe to the belief that the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth get, and the more likely it is that the plaque can be removed - however, believing and acting on this can eventually lead to gum recession.

It’s a lot to remember, but so worth it! While you’re visiting your dentist they’ll be able to monitor the success of your treatment, ensure that there aren’t any irregularities or dental abnormalities creeping up, and most importantly, they’ll ensure your teeth are cleaned and well taken care of!


Maintain Great Oral Hygiene At Home

You already know the drill - you’re probably used to being obsessed with your cleaning routine from the days of orthodontic treatment, so just continue the obsession! There’s no reason to stop being extremely vigilant, and taking extra great care of your teeth and gums, even when it’s all over.

Make sure that you’re brushing your teeth for at least two minutes, at least twice per day. It would be ideal to ensure one of these times falls right before you go to sleep, as saliva production decreases at night while you slumber, and isn’t an ideal time for your teeth to be left unclean and unbrushed. The flow of saliva helps to clean leftover particles and debris from your mouth, and without it, you may be welcoming in unwanted bacteria. This can also cause halitosis, or morning breath.

None of us like to floss, but it’s also an essential part of a successful and complete oral hygiene routine. While you are required to brush at least twice per day, you only need to floss once per day to ensure everything your toothbrush has been unable to capture has been removed. If you dislike using traditional dental floss for one reason or another, there are other options available that work just as effectively, and deliver the same clean results.

Now that you have complete access to every space and crevice in your teeth like never before, there’s no reason not to brush and floss perfectly and accurately every time! You may even be surprised by how easy it is now that your teeth are perfectly straight and healthy.

Topics: Orthodontics, Braces

Written by Dr. Hisham Badawi

An accomplished clinician, researcher, speaker and subject matter expert, with broad, in-depth and hands-on experience in many verticals within the healthcare space including technology applications in clinical practice, clinical research, biomechanics, bioinformatics, intellectual property, software development, clinical data sciences, and healthcare data privacy regulations.

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