has been months or years, and now your teeth look beautiful
and are free! Or are they?
Do They Take Braces Off?
off your braces is easier and faster than you'd think. When
your braces are ready to be removed, your dentist or
orthodontist will clip the curve on the back of the braces
with a special plier. This breaks the adhesive bond between
the bracket and your tooth. While it does make a loud clipping
sound, it doesn't really hurt.
As Dr. Echols in Florida explains
"No, we don't pull them off. The plastic bonding material is simply fractured gently off the back of each bracket and all the brackets come off with the wire if the wire is left in place when we gently squeeze the bracket.
It's physics, inclined planes, levers, fulcrums... weggie
continues, "Each bracket is 'popped' off clean, which
leaves a layer of the bonding plastic on the tooth. We then
use a high speed handpiece to smooth the plastic off the teeth
and polish the enamel where the plastic was removed, and
finish up with a polishing disk to smooth the enamel."
does it feel like to have your braces removed? Read what other
ArchWired readers said in Braces
"R" Word: Retainers!
have just spent several months or years, and a great deal of
money and inconvenience, to have your bite corrected and your
teeth straightened. Now the braces are gone! But you're not
really done. You must wear a retainer to help keep your teeth
in their new positions. It is very important to wear your
retainer exactly as your orthodontist tells you, especially
during the first year after your braces come off. This is
because it takes about 9 months for your periodontal
ligaments to "remember" their new positions. If you don't
wear your retainer regularly, your teeth will shift! After
the first year, many people wear their retainers at night,
several nights per week, to ensure that their new smiles
continue to look great.
are three basic types of retainers:
retainers. These are made of acrylic that is molded to your
mouth, and contain a wire to hold your teeth in position (this is
the most common type of retainer). The acrylic part is
available in clear, and in a variety of colors and
interesting designs, so you can "personalize" your
retainer if you wish. Pros: It hold your teeth
securely in position. Your orthodontist can bend the wires
to do some final "tweaking" on your smile. Cons: The
wire across your teeth is visible. It takes a few weeks to
get used to wearing it.
retainers made of clear plastic (similar to the Invisalign
aligner trays or whitening trays). Some people love these, while others feel that
they are too uncomfortable. Pros: It is virtually
invisible on your teeth. It does not rest on your palate and
is rather comfortable to wear. Cons: It does not
allow your teeth to touch in a natural way. It cannot move
teeth (no "tweaking" by your orthodontist). You must be
careful not to warp it with hot water.
retainers are glued to the back of your teeth and
are not removed. Pros: You cannot see the retainer.
It retains the teeth perfectly and is often used in cases
where large relapse may occur. Cons: It can bother
your tongue and takes some getting used to. It can be
difficult to floss the teeth bonded to the retainer (you
will need a floss threader).
orthodontist can help you decide which type of retainer is
right for you. Depending on your orthodontic treatment, your
orthodontist may want to use one type of retainer over
another. For example, the wires in a Hawley retainer can be
bent to actively move your teeth like braces, if necessary.
So, while you may want an Essix retainer, your
orthodontist may recommend a Hawley or a bonded
retainer instead. Talk to your orthodontist to find out
type you and your orthodontist choose, it's important to wear it regularly for as
long as your orthodontist recommends. During the initial
period (the first year after your braces come off) you will
wear it 24/7 for several months. Later, your orthodontist
will tell you that it's OK to wear it only at night -- every
night. After another year goes by, you can wear it several
nights per week. If you totally stop wearing your retainer,
your teeth will shift, particularly if you had extractions. Why
go to all this trouble and expense, only to screw up your
teeth again? Don't be stupid or lazy -- wear your retainer!
how a Hawley retainer is made? There is a great
show at the Harris Orthodontic Lab website that shows you!
How can your
keep your retainer clean? You can brush a Hawley retainer
with a toothbrush, but that isn't recommended for Essix
retainers because brushing can scratch them. And after a while, brushing can become tiresome.
You can use denture cleaner, but after a few months it will
turn your retainer yellow. There are several retainer
designed just for this purpose.
such products are SonicBrite, Retainer Brite,
DentaSoak, and Cleanse. Freshen. Go.
a powder that comes with a battery-operated sonic cleaner
bath. It works very well at getting white calculus build-up
off of many types of dental appliances. People with Essix
retainers and Invisalign -type aligners tend to like this
comes in tablet form and can be used with our without a
portable sonic cleaner. The advantage of this system is that
the tablets are individually foil wrapped, which makes it
easy for traveling.
is a Persulfate-free soaking solution that you mix once and
use for an entire week. Just mix the pre-measured packets
with cold water. DentaSoak comes with a special soaking bath
that includes a handy lift-out tray. The advantage of this
product is that it does not contain the chemical Persulfate
(which causes an allergic reaction in some people), and it
does not need to be mixed fresh every day.
Freshen. Go. is a convenient new concept in retainer and
aligner cleaning. The Persulfate-free product comes in two
forms: an individually wrapped retainer wipe, and a spray.
You can use the wipe anywhere you need to instantly clean
your retainer. The spray cleans your retainer in just a
couple of minutes (afterward, rinse with cold water).
All of these
retainer cleaning systems work very well at keeping your
retainer smelling fresh and preventing white build-up. They
can be used for either plastic and wire Hawley retainers, or
Essix (clear plastic) retainers and Invisalign -type aligner
trays. These products are available at
orthodontist may also have samples of these products, so be
sure to ask!
Please don't make the
mistake of losing your retainer at a restaurant! Get a proper
retainer case! The standard tale of woe goes like this: a
person went to a restaurant, forgot their retainer case and
wrapped their retainer in a napkin. They forgot about the
napkin and left the restaurant. The napkin got thrown in the
trash. The person had to pay $150 or more to have another
types of cases are available, both in hard plastic and
soft-sided. Your orthodontist will probably give you a
retainer case. But if you lose it, or want additional
sells a variety of
retainer cases in many colors and styles,
as well as "No Brainer" baggies.
how restaurant personnel feel about searching the trash for a
lost retainer? Here's a story that appeared a few years ago in
a website called "customerssuck.com":
One night, while we were busy,
a lady from one of my tables approached me to tell me that
her teenaged daughter had lost her retainer. To wit, the
girl had not brought a retainer case with her, and had
wrapped her retainer up in a napkin, and when we bussed some
dishes from the table, apparently the napkin-wrapped
retainer had been carried off. This has happened a few times
in the past, to much eye-rolling from those of us on the
staff. Okay, no problem...we are busy, but we can handle
manager and I grab some plastic gloves, tell everyone to
stop throwing trash in the trash cans, and spend a good
10-15 minutes looking for the darn thing, digging through,
well, nasty restaurant trash. Ugh. Periodically I update the
lady about our lack of progress. She does not seem happy,
but she is at least understanding that it is not OUR fault
that this happened. Well finally, my manager (bless her
perseverance) finds the buried treasure, and we rinse it
off, return the trash cans to where the staff can start
using them again, and (placing it in a plastic to go
container so we don't have to touch it), return the retainer
to the lady, feeling rather triumphant.
At this point,
she asks, "But where is the other half?"
ME: [blink blink]
MY MANAGER: [blink blink]
BOTH OF US: "HUH?!?!?!?!"
apparently this was a two part retainer (upper and lower),
and in all that time while we had been digging through trash
and updating them on what was going on, not one of the
geniuses at the table bothered to tell us that we were
looking for TWO pieces rather than one. At that moment, I
felt perfectly capable of taking these people's lives.
Remember, this was a BUSY NIGHT! Trying to contain our
complete contempt for the mental capacity of these genetic
defectives, my manager and I went BACK in the back to dig
some more, and miraculously found the other half of the
thanked us profusely, and was very nice about it, and after
all that, after giving them good service to begin with and
then bending over backwards to accommodate their double act
of stupidity, what happened? (You can see this one coming,
can't you?) Yep, after all that, this lady rewarded me with
a "generous" 10% (or a bit lower) tip. And people wonder why
I tend to be cynical regarding humanity's collective
And finally, here
is a great website with retainer advice just for kids: