Straightening your teeth not only improves your oral health, but it can also improve your smile. Braces can redefine your smile at any age, and as many as 20 to 25 percent of orthodontic patients today are adults, according to the Seton Hill University Center for Orthodontics.
Perfecting your smile doesn't begin and end with braces. Once the braces come off, you have a few options for further enhancing your smile, including wearing a retainer, teeth whitening and teeth reshaping after braces. If you're looking for ways to perfect your smile, consider how these treatments might work for you.
Keep Them Straight
Aftercare is necessary once your braces are removed because your newly straightened teeth must be stabilized by wearing a retainer. A retainer is a custom-made appliance constructed of plastic and metal wires to keep your teeth in place. They're usually removable, but they can sometimes be fixed. For the first six months after braces removal, you may be required to wear a retainer full-time. The six-month period may be followed by wearing the retainer at night, explains the Consumer Guide to Dentistry. Be sure to follow your dentist's or orthodontist's instructions on wearing your retainer so you can get the full benefit of your braces and retainer.
Whiten and Brighten
Over the years, your teeth can stain after exposure to certain foods and drinks, such as coffee, tea and tomato sauce. Make your smile even more attractive with teeth whitening. Available in your dentist's office, teeth whitening involves applying a peroxide-based gel to the teeth that can remove deep surface stains and make them five to seven times brighter. Whitening works well on yellow teeth, but not on brown or grayed teeth, nor on existing caps, fillings, veneers and crowns, notes the American Dental Association (ADA). Prevent future stains by brushing your teeth twice to three times a day with a tooth-whitening toothpaste like Colgate® Optic White® and staying away from stain-causing foods.
Reshape and Contour
Teeth reshaping after braces is another option, especially if there are other aspects of your smile you want to tweak. Tooth reshaping and dental contouring are cosmetic procedures that alter the shape, length and position of your teeth to fix minor imperfections such as a slightly crooked, overlapping, misshapen, chipped or extra-pointy tooth. Your dentist will decide which procedure can improve your smile, sometimes combining the two procedures, and take X-rays to determine if you have enough bone to support them, as detailed by the Academy of General Dentistry.
Life after braces takes dedication as you continue your oral care regimen and decide on additional procedures for your smile to really take shape. Do your own research and consult with your dentist on your treatment options so you can achieve the smile you deserve and the confidence that comes along with it.