Natalia Lusinski
May 15, 2016 10:48 am
Disney/Pixar

No one loves getting — or wearing — braces, and probably the best part about them is when you get them off. Woo-hoo! But taking care of your teeth isn’t done once the braces are done with their job. There’s some key things all former braces-wearers should know.

Wear your retainer… always (aka as much as your orthodontist said to)


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Okay, so I highly doubt your retainer looks like this, but don’t “forget” to wear it! You don’t want to end up back at the orthodontist, right? The retainer’s your friend — albeit, maybe not the coolest one — though they do come in all kinds of varieties (like bonded wire and removable) and colors (like red or clear) these days, so it makes them more fun than they used to be. Not to mention way more comfortable. “The quickest way to get back into the orthodontist’s chair is to decide that retainers are optional,” according to Orthodontic Associates. But, TBH, retainers are key so your teeth don’t shift back to how they were, pre-braces. None of us want that, right?

Speaking of retainers, make sure you store it properly (and clean it)


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To prevent bacteria from getting in your mouth via your retainer (ew), not only should you store it in its case (i.e., not a napkin!), but don’t forget to clean it, too. Think of it this way — you brush your teeth every day (hopefully) to keep your mouth clean and smelling fresh, so your retainer needs the same care. All you need is some antibacterial liquid hand soap or dishwashing soap and a spare toothbrush. (Yep, your retainer should have its own toothbrush, and you can also pop for one of those bigger ones, the kind people clean dentures with.) You can also soak it in a denture cleanser, like Polident, and add it to some warm water, states WebMD. After you wash and rinse it, put it in your mouth or case, not anywhere else, as tempting as it may be to put it down someplace for a second or wrap it up in something, like the aforementioned napkin.

The first month after braces are the most important


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The chance of your teeth relapsing is high the first month… if you don’t follow doctor’s orders (aka wearing your retainer when you’re supposed to).

Don’t neglect your gums


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If you had braces, you probably know that trying to floss with them was a challenge. If your gums look puffy these days, there’s a simple solution: Hot salt water. Rinse your mouth with it three times a day until your gums look like their old selves again, according to Dream Smile Dental.

Eat! (But with caution!)


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Now that the braces are off, you can eat again! Remember all those fun foods, like popcorn, that you had to avoid while having braces? Of course you do! Well, enjoy. But remember to remove your retainer first (and put it in your case!), unless you have something like Invisalign and your orthodontist says it’s okay (but there are mixed opinions on this). And to keep your “new” teeth looking good, brush with fluoride toothpaste after every meal and floss each day, too. (Cat optional.)


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Smile!


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Smiling may seem like a given, but plenty of people inadvertently learned to perfect their closed-mouth smile when they had braces, that it may take some getting used to smiling with your teeth again (remember those?). You worked hard, and put up with lots of discomfort, for your new set of teeth, so now’s the time to show them off!


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