Getting Braces Off: 4 Questions to Prepare

After a year or two (or maybe even three!) of orthodontic treatment, the big day is finally approaching. It's time for getting braces off of your teen's teeth. While your child is probably excited to finally saying goodbye to those braces, he or she most likely has a lot of questions about the process and about what life will be like after braces.

As a parent, you want to know what you can do to help your child during the removal process and to help make sure your kid takes great care of the teeth you've invested so much time and money in. Here are a few common questions and answers about the process of getting braces off.

1. How Long Will It Take to Remove the Braces?

Although your child had to wear braces for several months, if not years, the process of taking the braces off isn't long or complicated. Usually, the braces can be completely taken off in a single appointment and removal often takes about an hour. During removal, the orthodontist clips the brackets and uses a scraper or polisher to remove the glue from the teeth. While having braces removed doesn't hurt, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation points out that many patients feel a bit of pressure and can hear scraping during the process.

2. Will the Braces Damage My Teeth?

The braces themselves won't cause permanent damage to your child's teeth. But a few things can make the teeth look a little worse for wear after the braces are removed. For example, some people develop white spots on their teeth when they wear braces. The spots form because of a buildup of plaque on the teeth that changes the color of the enamel. The good news is that the spots can be treated.

3. Do I Have to Wear a Retainer?

Retainers are part of the package, or as the National Dental Centre Singapore puts it, "after braces, always retainers." Once the braces are taken off, the teeth are going to be a bit loose and unsteady in their new positions. The job of a retainer is to hold those teeth in position, so that the hard work of the braces isn't undone.

How long your child needs to wear a retainer after braces depends on a few factors. Some people need to wear a retainer for just a few years. Others might need to wear their retainer for the rest of their lives. Although wearing a retainer might be a pain or might be embarrassing for your child, it's important to remind him or her that it's an essential part of the process. Wearing the retainer makes it much less likely that your child will need to get braces a second time.

4. How Do I Care for My Teeth After Braces?

Your child's teeth won't be invincible after the braces are removed. Regular visits to the dentist and a good oral care routine at home are important for keeping the teeth and gums healthy. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste like Colgate TotalSF Clean Mint toothpaste. Its great mint taste leaves your mouth clean and fresh. Flossing once a day is also a must, because it removes bits of food that get stuck between the teeth.

Schedule regular cleanings and checkups with your child's dentist twice a year after the braces come off. Regular check-ins with the dentist means that any potential issues are caught early and are easier to fix. It's also a good idea to check in with the orthodontist on a regular basis. Your child's orthodontist can tell you if the retainer is working or if it needs adjustment.

You and your child have invested in a lot of time and energy into straightening his or her smile. While you're both thrilled about the braces coming off, it's important to do what you can to keep your child's teeth in great shape for years to come.

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.

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  • Swish with water before brushing – instruct your child to rinse with water after eating. This will loosen food that may be caught in the braces, then brush thoroughly.
  • Floss once a day – each night help your child floss. Flossing helps loosen food debris and plaque at and under the gum line that would otherwise harden into tartar. It can also help reach the nooks and crannies in the teeth that might be difficult to reach with a toothbrush.
  • Use a fluoride rinse – after brushing and before bed have your child rinse with fluoride rinse to help keep teeth strong and healthy
  • Dental visits every six months – take your child to the dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months. The dentist can point out areas that need more attention, and help make sure you're keeping your child’s teeth healthy and clean.