Keeping Your Teeth Straight After Braces

Finally getting your braces off feels like crossing a finish line — one that’s taken months or even years to get to. It’s important not to get swept up in the excitement and forget that there are still steps to take to keep your teeth straight for years to come. Your Gainesville orthodontist at Studio32 Orthodontics can tell you everything you need to know about keeping your smile straight and beautiful.

Why Do Teeth Move?

You know how braces work: the wires apply gentle pressure to your teeth to move them into their desired position over time. When you remove the braces, your teeth don’t immediately stop moving. They’ll want to return to their original position, which is exactly what you spent so much time in braces to avoid!

Your jaw and teeth will change over time. Your wisdom teeth may come in and need to be extracted. Wisdom teeth often grow at unhealthy angles and put pressure on other molars, causing those molars to shift. If you lose teeth, adjacent teeth may move to fill in the gap left behind. It’s important to seek treatment for lost teeth as soon as possible to prevent the rest of your teeth from shifting. If you grind your teeth, it can result in gum recession, which gives your teeth more room to move. Any kind of gum disease can have devastating effects on your teeth. When teeth lose their foundation they become more likely to shift. It’s important to take good care of your gums in order to avoid gum disease.

Wear Your Retainers

The most important step you can take to keep your teeth straight after braces is to wear your retainers. Your orthodontist will provide specific instructions on how to wear them. Because your teeth are still actively trying to move back into their original position during the first six months after braces, most orthodontists will instruct you to wear your retainers full-time for at least six months, and then just at night for life. Teeth naturally shift over time, and the only way to keep your teeth as straight and perfect as they are on the day your braces are removed is to wear your retainers faithfully. Remember that most adult braces wearers are relapse patients: people who had braces as children and have them again as adults because they didn’t wear retainers.

Take Care Of Your Retainers

It’s important to take good care of your retainers so they can take good care of your teeth. How to care for your retainers will depend on the type of retainers you have.

  • Hawley retainers are the most common form of retainer. They are made of a metal guide wire attached to acrylic that fits across the roof of your mouth. Hawley retainers are removable.
  • Permanent glued retainers are a thin stainless steel wire bonded to the back of your teeth. Permanent retainers require you to be extra diligent about cleaning around the area, but they also mean you don’t have to worry about forgetting or losing your retainers.
  • Clear plastic retainers, much like Invisalign, look like gum shields that fit snugly over your teeth. With these retainers, it’s important to remember that if you don’t wear them for a while and then try to force them to fit, the plastic can snap, so be sure to wear them as often as the orthodontist has prescribed.

With removable retainers, you’ll need to clean and care for them daily. Retainers are easily lost, and replacing them can get expensive, so we encourage forming good habits when it comes to storing them. When you remove retainers to eat, place them in their solid case — never wrapped in a napkin that can easily be thrown away. Remember that household pets love to chew on retainers, so keep them out of reach of the family puppy.

Talk to your Gainesville orthodontist to determine what type of retainer is the best option for you.

Keep Practicing Good Dental Hygiene

Remember that tooth loss and gum disease can lead to shifting teeth, so it’s important to take care of your teeth. You likely picked up good hygiene habits while wearing braces, so don’t let those drop now. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss in the evenings. Schedule regular dentist visits every six months, and bring your retainers with you to your appointments. If your dentist or orthodontist recommends replacing your retainers, do so. If your retainers no longer fit correctly, bring them in to have them looked at as soon as possible.

Just because your braces are off doesn’t mean you no longer need your orthodontist. At Studio32 Orthodontics, we know that your aftercare plan is important. Keep up with regular followup visits and let us help you keep your smile perfect. If you have any questions about your orthodontics treatment, contact us today. Gainesville orthodontist Dr. Mullally can answer any questions you have.