Understanding what to do after adult braces will give you things to look forward to after your long braces journey and help you take care of your newly straightened teeth properly.
If you’ve been following my blog for quite a while, you may remember that I got braces about four months before my son Tommy was born. I blogged about my entire braces as an adult journey. It’s all available in the braces section.
I got my braces removed three and a half years ago. I know that it’s a little random that I’m returning to the braces as an adult topic now. But I wanted to do another follow-up about how things have gone afterward and share some tips about what to do after adult braces.
When people ask if I would do braces again or if I wish I’d done it sooner, I always hesitate to say yes. Braces are expensive and painful. It often takes a minimum of one to two years to complete a full stint of braces. As such, it’s a long-term commitment to follow the protocol, such as wearing rubber bands and avoiding certain foods, and to make it to all of the appointments. Every single reason I put off braces was justified. There were also multiple negative elements of the process that I didn’t anticipate.
With that being said, getting braces changed everything. I spent decades with an uncomfortable, ill-fitting bite, which resulted in a lot of awkward smiles and general self-consciousness. Now I love my smile and have zero dental issues.
I encourage you to check out my before and after braces pictures post, in which I share more about what my personal “after” experience was really like. In the before and after post, I shared a handful of 2019 family pictures. One reason that I decided to write this post is because I wanted to share a few more family pictures from the last three years. After so many years of awkward smiles, I never imagined that I would look forward to family pictures and that I would love them so much.
The credit for all of these photos goes to Lichter Photography. I am so ridiculously grateful for all of the amazing work that they’ve done for my family and me these past four years.
Here are my best tips for what to do after adult braces.
Celebrate with some of the foods that you’ve missed
Aside from some minor sensitivity following the initial removal of braces, there’s nothing that will prevent you from enjoying everything on the forbidden foods list again immediately.
Once you have your braces removal date, pick up some snacks and plan a couple of meals that include foods you’ve really missed eating.
Be prepared for sore and sensitive teeth and gums
When you get your braces off, your gums may be sore, and your teeth may be a little sensitive for a day or two afterward. Your gums may bleed when you brush and floss your teeth, and your teeth may be sensitive to hot and cold food and drink. It can also be an adjustment not having braces after months of feeling them there with your tongue, which can be a little unsettling.
Generally, the pain and sensitivity will go away on their own after just one or two days. If you have any prolonged issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to your orthodontist.
Whiten your teeth
After months of braces treatment, getting your teeth whitened is a great final step to take your new smile up a notch.
Some orthodontists recommend waiting six months to do an in-house whitening treatment, such as Zoom, to avoid extreme sensitivity. Personally, I didn’t wait, and it was fine. I shared my experience with Zoom whitening in my end of the braces journey post. If you have done an in-house whitening treatment previously and experienced a high level of sensitivity, I recommend waiting. An over-the-counter treatment, such as Crest Whitestrips, is also a great option. While not as dramatic, it doesn’t come with the same level of sensitivity.
Take care of any post-braces dental work
While you’re in the groove of getting major dental work done, stick with it to get everything finished. I know that it can be tempting to take a break after such a grueling experience. But I guarantee you’re much more likely to do any remaining dental work if you schedule it right away. Then you’ll be all finished and won’t have anything lingering, which is such a good feeling.
Wear your retainer(s)
After spending months of your life and thousands of dollars on braces, the last thing you want is for your teeth to move out of place. Wearing your retainers is the single most important aspect of ensuring that your teeth stay where they’re supposed to stay.
Typically, a braces package includes the first set of retainers. In most instances, an orthodontist will take impressions for retainers the same day that you get your braces removed. You’ll be able to start wearing them within 24 hours of the removal of your braces.
Your orthodontist will tell you how often you need to wear your retainers (i.e., every night) and how long you need to wear your retainers (i.e., two years). Be prepared to wear your retainers every night indefinitely.
Clean your retainers regularly
Even when you put retainers in immediately after brushing your teeth at night and always take them off before eating in the morning, they get gross over time. Purchase retainer cleaner. Get in the habit of using it at least once or twice a week, more often if needed.
Replace your retainer case periodically
Similarly, even with good care and regular cleaning, retainer cases get gross over time. It gets impossible to clean off all the build-up. I recommend replacing the case about every six months.
Maintain a good daily brushing and flossing habit
After all the hard work you’ve put in to fix your teeth, it’s more important than ever to keep brushing twice daily and flossing daily.
Keep your follow-up orthodontic appointments
Once you get your braces off, your orthodontist will want to see you a couple of times each year to make sure that everything looks okay. Address any issues that do arise in a timely manner.
Maintain twice-yearly dental checkups
Keep up with your regularly scheduled dentist appointments, so your teeth stay clean and healthy. Complete any recommended work (i.e., filling cavities) as needed.
In between scheduled appointments, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist or orthodontist with any concerns.
Schedule professional pictures
Finally, if you’ve been waiting to do new family pictures or other pictures, such as headshots, get them scheduled. I promise that you’ll be blown away by the results.
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Again, you can find all of the posts about my journey with adult braces in the braces section of my blog. Wherever you are on your braces journey, I hope that these posts are helpful and encouraging. If you have any questions about my experience, don’t hesitate to ask.