What to Expect When Getting Braces Removed
It’s been a while since you’ve had your braces put on and, chances are, you’re more than ready to have them removed. Luckily, at this point, your orthodontist agrees, and you’ve truly reached the final weeks of treatment.
What an accomplishment!
Generally speaking, while wearing your braces, your teeth likely moved at around one millimeter per month to the position they’re in now, with the whole process taking between six months and three years (depending upon your individual treatment plan). You’ve brushed and flossed as instructed, eaten properly, and kept your braces in good shape. Now it’s time for the final appointment.
Are you ready? Let’s find out what you need to know to prepare.
At the last appointment:
The final appointment isn’t the last you’ll see of your orthodontist’s office, but it’s the last time you’ll see your braces (hopefully!). As far as what you can expect, there are a few basics you can pretty much count on occurring, and then some things that may or may not take place.
Essentially, this appointment will involve your orthodontist carefully loosening up your braces’ brackets one by one, eventually removing the entire set of braces, brackets, and wires in one full piece. Any other attachments or components will most likely be removed at this time as well.
The bonding glue that holds the brackets on your teeth will also need to be removed, which involves a process that may cause some slight discomfort and/or light pressure.
After this, you will probably receive a full cleaning. Impressions and x-rays or digital photographs may also be taken in order to make your retainer and to measure how successful the braces have been in meeting your treatment goals. If you are going to receive a retainer, which is likely, you will learn about how to wear it, clean it, store it, and keep it in good condition during this appointment, too. We’ll talk more about the retainer shortly.
The whole process will take around an hour or so depending upon your personal treatment needs. So, how can you prepare for this appointment?
Before you go:
Before heading off to your final appointment, take care to brush your teeth and braces and floss thoroughly to ensure the process runs smoothly and quickly. (You’ll probably get a full cleaning at the appointment once your braces are removed, but it still helps the process along to start with teeth and braces that are as clean as possible.)
Ask about taking over-the-counter pain medication before arriving at your last appointment. This could be a good idea since removing the brackets relieves the constant pressure you’ve had on your teeth for an extended period of time. The change caused by relieving this pressure often results in some level of soreness for patients.
Is there any reason to think this appointment might need to be postponed?
If there is any type of unexpected movement (or lack of expected movement) with your teeth or other such changes, it is possible that the appointment could be postponed once your orthodontist examines you. Most of the time, however, final appointments go forward without a hitch.
Preparing for retention: What is a retainer and how does it work?
A retainer is an orthodontic device that is worn by patients after braces are removed. Once you start wearing your retainer you’ve entered the “retention phase” of care, which must be planned out and followed carefully to maintain your results post-braces.
Your orthodontist is likely to decide on a retainer in order to keep your teeth in their post-treatment position. If you are given a retainer, remember to wear it as recommended in order to keep your teeth in their ideal position. Without it, they may shift back out of alignment. When worn properly, retainers prevent patients from needing to have braces a second time.
We are happy to offer any advice and book follow up appointments as necessary to help with retention issues such as wearing, replacing, and/or the upkeep of retainers and their supervision, as part of your treatment.
How long must a retainer be worn?
Since the teeth can always shift their position after braces have been removed, it’s a must to keep them in place by wearing a retainer if you are instructed to do so.
The length of time that patients wear a retainer can vary considerably. Some former braces patients will receive their retainers along with the guidance that they should wear them for life -- yep, forever.
Sometimes orthodontists recommend that retainers are worn both day and night for up to three months or longer, after which they can be reduced to only being worn at night. In other cases, it may be recommended that retainers are worn only at night for either a set or indefinite amount of time.
How can I keep my retainer in good condition?
If you care for your retainer as instructed, most of them can last several years or longer. However, keep in mind that you will likely need a replacement to be made at some point. To keep yours in top shape for as long as possible, remember to:
- Keep your retainer only in cool, dry spaces, away from heat, heat sources, and especially do not leave them in hot car interiors. You don’t want your retainer melting or getting misshapen!
- Do not leave your retainer sitting out with unsupervised pets roaming around. Dogs especially have been known to mistake them for toys and chew on them or even eat them -- which isn’t good for the retainer OR the dog!
- Keep your retainer in its specially approved protective case when not in your mouth. Wash out the case as well as the retainer daily and/or nightly to keep it all clean. Never toss your retainer on your nightstand, or put it in your pocket, or on your lunch tray without its protective case. Let us know ASAP if you need a replacement case.
- If your retainer gets broken or lost, contact us ASAP to get a new one.
How can I get used to my new retainer?
You may have a bit of trouble talking clearly when it’s in your mouth at first. Practice speaking with it in your mouth, and it should get easier over time. After a few days, you should be a pro!
You may salivate more, or more clumsily, at first, since there is something new in your mouth to work around. You should adjust to this within a couple of days.
To reiterate what we’ve already mentioned: be sure to carry your protective case with you whenever you’re wearing your retainer. This way, you’ll always be able to place your retainer in its proper case when you remove it to eat and reduce your risk of throwing it away with the trash at the end of your meal.
After your braces are removed, continue to brush several times and floss daily, especially after meals and before bed. Utilize flossers or other dental cleaning tools as needed to get all areas clean and remove plaque between, behind, and on all surfaces of the teeth.
Some people end up with discolorations on their teeth, which become more noticeable once their braces are removed. These are whitish lesions caused by a process called demineralization, where the outermost surface of the tooth is stripped of its enamel. Your orthodontist may treat them with a good, thorough cleaning and the application of a special type of gel designed to remove the lesion.
After this, you may begin to incorporate fluoride rinse, whitening treatments, prescription toothpastes for remineralization, or other products as directed by your orthodontist. *Note: Keep in mind that it is good to wait at least a month before beginning any bleaching or whitening treatments so that the newly exposed enamel can adjust properly first.
If you’re experiencing soreness, try avoiding chewy, sticky, or crunchy foods until it passes. Talk to us about continuing with occasional over-the-counter pain meds as needed. And don’t rush to eat all the formerly forbidden foods you couldn’t have with braces on -- take your time and let your mouth adjust, having only one or two snacks every once in a while. This will help cut down on your soreness, too.
Keep up with your regular dental appointments every six months once your braces are removed, or more often if recommended. Additionally, keep any follow-up orthodontist appointments precisely as they are scheduled. Bring any removable retainers or other dental devices that you use with you to your orthodontist appointments.
The Jungle Roots orthodontic and dental teams are here to assist patients as they leave their braces behind and move forward into a new life with healthy, beautifully aligned teeth. With both teams being in the same building, communication is excellent here and appointment scheduling is extra efficient for busy families.
We are thrilled to work with you and your family as you maintain healthy teeth and work through any and all treatment plans you may have developed with our team. Whatever stage you’re in with braces or dental care, feel free to call us with any questions you may have, or feel free to make an appointment anytime if you have a concern. You’re our main priority here, and we look forward to seeing you soon!
At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.