If you’re reading this, chances are that either you are about to get your braces off, or you recently got them off! Either way, huge congrats! It’s no small feat to wear and care for braces over months and years, and the outcome is totally worth it.
While you’re celebrating your new dazzling smile, Koerich Orthodontics also wants to help set you up for long-term success. Life without braces still means making an effort to maintain straight teeth, and to keep them healthy for many years to come. Let’s take a look at some of Dr. Leo and Dr. Lindsey Koerich’s tips for how to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. And they also have a few special circumstances for you to consider!
The Basics of Caring for Your Brace-Free Teeth
One of the first things we recommend for patients after they get their braces removed is to schedule a regular cleaning at the dentist. This is helpful because, despite how diligent you might have been about cleaning while the braces were on, usually there is some plaque or tartar buildup that is hard to remove on your own. You don’t want to sport that new smile with visible spots or plaque, and that’s why a dental visit is a good idea.
More than just appearance reasons, after so much time with braces, your teeth are ready for a deep cleaning. Regular dental cleanings are an essential part of long-term oral health, and it’s time to start getting those back on your schedule!
Regular Oral Hygiene Routine
Your daily routine will change a bit after getting your braces off. While brushing and flossing used to take some time, it should now feel like a breeze without any metal brackets or wires in the way! Enjoy the freedom, but be sure to still be diligent about regular brushing twice per day, and flossing once. Be thorough, brushing for at least two minutes, and covering the entire surface area of each tooth. By staying committed to oral hygiene now you will get to experience healthier teeth in the future, even as you age.
Wearing and Caring for Retainers
One of the new additions to your life and schedule will be wearing your retainer. Depending on the kind of retainer that Dr. Koerich recommends, you may need to remember to take them out and put them in and clean them regularly, too. Removable retainers need to be cleaned daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a gentle solution like alcohol-free mouthwash or hand soap. Scrub the solution all over your retainer and rinse well before storing. Now your retainer should be ready for the next time you put it in!
If you notice your retainer looking and feeling dirty over time despite daily brushing, we recommend soaking it in a retainer cleaner like Retainer Brite or simply distilled white vinegar. Don’t worry, your retainers will not smell like vinegar afterwards! Vinegar is great at breaking down the buildup to forms on retainers quickly and leaves them crystal clear. If you’re still unsure, Retainer Brite can be easily found on Amazon and in some drug stores.
If you have a permanent retainer rather than a removable one, your daily brush and floss are the best way to care for it! Spend a little extra time brushing around and underneath the wire of your fixed retainer, and be sure to use a threader to move floss underneath the wire.
Extras to Consider
One common occurrence after braces come off is teeth sensitivity. It can sometimes take a few days or weeks for your mouth to adjust, but generally, it doesn’t last and you should be feeling back to normal soon.
We see a lot of patients who are excited to whiten their teeth after getting their braces removed. Maybe there are residual stains on their teeth, or they have just been looking forward to flashing a glowing, straight smile. Whatever the reason, there are a few good options to choose from!
The most common are whitening toothpaste, store-bought whitening kits, or a professional treatment done at the dentist. All of these are good options depending on how much staining you have and how much you want to spend. For those with substantial stains on their teeth, the professional treatment will be the most effective and long-lasting.
Manage Stress and Jaw Clenching
While it’s always important to manage your stress for your health, it’s a good reminder for those who have their braces removed to be diligent about avoiding teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Grinding teeth is called bruxism and can erode tooth enamel which can result in painful, sensitive teeth or even cavities. And clenched jaws can disrupt your aligned bite and cause pain like TMJ disorder.
If you grind your teeth while wearing a retainer, it can damage the retainer as well as your teeth and jaw. Depending on the cause of your stress, it might be helpful to have a conversation with your doctor or dentist about finding solutions to the bruxism, whether through oral interventions and devices or through lifestyle changes.
Find the Team You Need
At Koerich Orthodontics, we are proud to partner with many children, teens, and adults to discover their beautiful, straight smiles. If you’re ready for your own before and after moment with an incredible team to support you, give us a call. Connect with one of our offices in Charlotte or Indian Trail to set you up for a free consultation!