Congratulations! You not only survived but thrived with braces, and now you have a beautiful smile to show for it. Your braces required a lot of time and investment, so you want to make sure your smile looks as perfect as possible. Consider these cosmetic procedures — like teeth reshaping or whitening — after your braces are removed.
Teeth Reshaping After Braces And Other Ways to Perfect Your Smile
Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
Tooth reshaping, also known as dental contouring, involves subtle changes to imperfections in your smile. While your braces probably addressed any crooked or overlapping teeth, tooth reshaping can help fix those edges or surfaces that are misshapen, chipped, or extra-pointy. This technique removes small amounts of enamel to change the shape, length, or surface of one or more teeth. The procedure does not require any healing time or numbing agents and usually takes about 30 minutes, including these four steps:
- X-Rays. Your dentist or orthodontist will take an X-ray of your teeth to make sure everything is healthy.
- Prep. They will mark your teeth with a pen to show the areas that require contouring.
- Contouring. The dental professional will use a sanding instrument and abrasion techniques to artfully sculpt the tooth, eliminating and minimizing imperfections.
- Polishing. The tooth is smoothed and polished.
Tooth reshaping is often combined with a process called bonding to achieve the best results. Bonding can fill in chips or gaps, add shape, and improve the color of teeth. The procedure typically takes 30 minutes to an hour and includes these steps:
- Prep. The dental professional will start by prepping the tooth for the bonding resin by roughening the tooth surface with a sanding instrument. Depending on the situation, they might choose to use a numbing agent to ensure your comfort.
- Application. The dental professional will then apply a putty-like resin to the tooth and carefully shape it. The resin — which has been mixed to match your natural tooth color — will adhere and harden to the tooth.
- Adjustment. Once the bonding is shaped, a special light hardens the resin. The dental professional will ask you to bite down to see if you feel any excess resin that needs smoothing. You will repeat this process until the bonding is perfect.
Hopefully, you practiced proper oral hygiene to keep your teeth from staining during braces. Still, you might wish for a brighter smile once your orthodontic treatment has finished. Explore your tooth whitening options to get the best results:
- Professional teeth whitening. Make an appointment for professional teeth whitening with your dentist for the fastest and most effective results. The treatment uses bleaching gels and a special light to whiten quickly — sometimes in just one session. Your dentist will let you know if you are a good candidate for professional whitening.
- Custom at-home whitening trays. For professional quality at a better value, talk to your dentist about custom whitening trays. Specially formatted for your teeth, these trays are filled with a bleaching gel and worn at home for a required amount of time for convenient whitening.
- Over-the-counter whitening products. To remove surface stains, you also have a choice of whitening strips, pens, and toothpaste at your local drug store. Ask your dental professional to recommend specific over-the-counter products that are safe for your teeth.
Maintaining your beautiful new smile after braces also involves following your orthodontist's instructions. Newly straightened teeth often require a retainer to stabilize. Retainers are custom-made appliances constructed of plastic or metal wire to keep your teeth in place. These retainers might be removable or permanently fixed to the back of teeth. Often, you need to wear your retainer full-time for up to six months to ensure your teeth remain straight for years to come.
In addition to wearing your retainer, maintain a proper oral hygiene routine. Removing your braces makes it easier to brush all the surfaces of your teeth twice a day for two minutes and clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental device. Also, don't forget regular visits to the dental office to check on your oral health!
Life with braces required months of dedication on your journey to a beautiful smile. Work with your orthodontist or dental professional to determine which additional procedures will help achieve the smile you deserve and the confidence that comes along with it.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.