Guide to maintaining a straight smile after braces
Having great-looking and healthy teeth can be extremely important. Our teeth contribute a great deal to our self-confidence and overall health. For most of us with teeth issues, medical braces are the answer. However, maintaining a straight smile after braces is something that a lot of people struggle with. Even if you go with the best invisible braces company on the market, you still need to put in some work to maintain your newly straight smile. And that is exactly what we will be talking about in this article. Join us as we explore the reasons why a straight smile is so important and how to maintain it after wearing braces.
The importance of a straight smile
According to the PDA report, approximately four million people in the U.S. are wearing braces at any given time. This serves to show that having a straight smile is extremely important, as wearing braces is everything but comfortable. The benefits of having straight teeth cannot be overestimated, and they include:
- Improved self-confidence
- Better oral health
- Improved overall health
- Savings on future dental bills
But your smile can influence much more than that. The benefits vary from person to person but they are always highly noticeable. Simply straightening your smile can improve your relationships due to the fact that people might treat you differently. We would love to say that your teeth have nothing to do with how others treat you but that is simply not the case. Humans are shallow beings, after all, and your outward appearance has a huge influence on your relationships. However, how others perceive you is much less important than the four main benefits of having a straight smile.
For most people, maintaining a straight smile after braces has a lot to do with improved self-confidence. Simply by the virtue of suddenly having straight teeth, one will usually feel a lot better about themselves. This has large social implications, as people tend to be more socially active when they are self-confident.
People that suffer from teeth issues usually have significant issues with the way they look. They are not so keen on socialization and communication, and might also seclude themselves in their homes. Needless to say, this situation is very detrimental to one’s social and work life. Having straight teeth, on the other hand, helps you feel more confident in yourself. While wearing braces might erode one’s self-confidence, there are many different types of braces to take into consideration to minimize this effect. Choosing the set that will allow you to remain self-confident even while having braces on can be very important.
Straight teeth can also help a person speak more clearly. In some cases, gaps between the front teeth can lead to a “whistling” noise while speaking, something that can be a cause for distress. Closing this gap with braces will not only eliminate that noise but will also provide you with more speaking confidence as well as clearer speech.
Better oral health
Aside from the visual effects of straight teeth, your oral health is going to be much improved. Having crooked teeth and gaps between teeth usually leads to some overlap and food buildup in the mouth. This food can then turn into tartar or plaque and create nasty gum issues as well as contribute to tooth decay. While straight teeth will not eliminate this issue altogether, what they will do is provide fewer “hiding places” for stray food bits. Straight teeth are also much easier to clean than crooked teeth. You may have already noticed these symptoms as warning signs that you need braces. While braces will all but eliminate these issues, you will still want to be on the lookout for them happening again.
Having straight teeth will also make it easier to floss and avoid gum disease and gum inflammation. Also, straight teeth are much less sensitive to discoloration and sudden temperature changes, as well as general wear and tear. With crooked teeth, there is always an uneven pressure distribution when you bite down your food. This has the effect of premature tooth chipping and can further exacerbate some of the other issues.
Improved overall health
But oral health is just a part of what straight teeth can do for you. Your overall health is also going to be improved, as you will chew easier and avoid a plethora of other issues. When you have crooked teeth, it is very easy to experience indigestion and gas issues, as you are not chewing your food enough due to pain or discomfort. Lastly, by not chewing properly, you are not getting the full nutritional value out of your food.
Another thing to note is that gum disease may lead to some very nasty conditions. Coronary artery disease, blood sugar, and respiratory disease, for example, are all connected to gum disease in one way or another. And that is not all, certain mouth bacteria can even enter your bloodstream through the gums, potentially wreaking havoc throughout your body. Of course, the risk of these issues is still present even with straight teeth but is significantly lessened.
Savings on future dental bills
We all know how expensive fixing your teeth can be. But not fixing your teeth usually ends up being even more expensive. If you left your crooked teeth the way they are, you are running a risk of potentially very expensive procedures down the proverbial road. By choosing to straighten your teeth, you will be reducing the chances of further dental bills by quite a lot.
Furthermore, having straight teeth is very helpful in preventing any accidental damage. Sports injuries, car accidents, falls, etc. can be very dangerous to your teeth. If you have straight teeth, the chances of you sustaining a very serious injury are considerably lessened. With crooked teeth, every time you fall you are running a risk of a debilitating injury. And, as we all know how cheap the U.S. healthcare system is, you are also running a risk of a significant financial deficit.
Braces to the rescue!
For most people, traditional braces are the best way toward a straight smile. Invisalign is also a very popular option, as it provides the patients with a better visual feeling during the treatment. But those are just two of the many different types of braces that you may want to consider. The treatment time varies by type and unique circumstances but is usually quite long. That is to say that you will want to be maintaining a straight smile after braces, as you don’t want to go through the process again.
Maintaining a straight smile after braces 101
The main things to consider after finishing your treatment are:
- Regular dental appointments
- Teeth placement/Shifting teeth
- Teeth whitening
While everyone initially has the honest intention of keeping their teeth straight, the fact of the matter is that it is not as easy as it sounds. You suddenly need to adopt numerous other “rituals” to keep a straight smile. Luckily, it is not really that hard to maintain your straight smile after your braces provide one for you. Here’s how you do it:
Rule #1 – Wear your retainers
We can’t stress this enough, wearing your retainers is the most important thing in making that straight smile “stick” for prolonged periods of time. Retainers are clear, removable, pieces of plastic (or metal, in some cases) that are unique to each individual. You will get yours custom-made and they will match your teeth’ alignment as well as the shape of your mouth.
Retainers come in two varieties: Removable and fixed. Removable retainers are what most patients opt for, and they can be put in and taken out at your leisure. Fixed retainers, on the other hand, are the “surefire” approach to maintaining a straight smile but they are much less convenient and comfortable than removable ones.
As a general rule of thumb, you will still want to wear even removable retainers day and night (except when you eat and drink, obviously) for the first three months following the brace removal. After this period, you will want to visit your orthodontist and see how your teeth are doing. If everything is going great, you can then wear your retainers during the night (or when you go to sleep) only.
You will also want to keep your retainers clean at all times, as they have a tendency to “collect” food and debris from your mouth. Cleaning them is rather easy, though, all you need to do is run them under lukewarm water and gently scrub them with a toothbrush. This will remove all the accumulated debris in no time. Just make sure that you don’t use any toothpaste as it may cause some abrasion.
Maintain regular dental appointments
Even if you think that your teeth are in no danger of returning back to their original (crooked) state, you will still want to maintain regular visits to your orthodontist. Dental health professionals will be able to help you keep your teeth in optimal position and condition, as well as provide you with any advice that pertains to maintaining a straight smile after braces. If you are wearing fixed retainers, this advice becomes a very strong recommendation. Fixed retainers utilize a thin wire that supports your teeth and hold them in place and that wire needs to be maintained.
For best results, you will want to schedule a dental clean every six months or so. Visiting your orthodontist more frequently is always good, of course, but it is not essential.
Monitor your teeth placement
Wearing your retainers is not the only thing that you need to think about. Even with an ideal retainer and great “retainer discipline“, your teeth may still shift slightly. Teeth shift as we age, it is completely normal. What you need to do is monitor whether your teeth are shifting and report it to your orthodontist if they are. The sooner you realize the shift is occurring, the better. If you figure it out early enough, the solution will usually be quite easy and inexpensive.
But if you don’t pay attention and your teeth are shifting more than what is “safe”, you are running a risk of needing more orthodontic treatments. And that is something that no one wants (except, perhaps, some unscrupulous orthodontists). One of the qualities of a good orthodontist is that they do not want you to come to their office more than absolutely necessary. Good orthodontists want you to have a healthy, straight, smile, with minimal interventions. But to make that a reality, you need to do your part too. You may even want to take some pictures on a monthly basis and do a comparison from time to time. Human memory is far from perfect, after all.
Consider teeth whitening
Whitening your teeth can help a great deal in maintaining a straight smile after braces. Having white teeth usually makes you a lot more obsessed about your teeth (in a good way), and you will be more inclined to keep them healthy and in great condition. However, you don’t want to proceed with teeth whitening immediately after you finish with your braces, as there may be some sensitivity issues. Usually, you will want to wait several weeks before having your orthodontist perform teeth whitening.
Maintaining a straight smile after braces is all about discipline. You need to be mindful that it is not a given that you will retain your smile 100% of the time. Retainers will do most of the work for you but you need to do your part as well. If you need any additional information on invisible braces, top braces companies, or even oral hygiene in general, you can find all of it right here at Consumer Opinion Guide. Explore our knowledge database at your leisure. We are always adding helpful articles like this one. Our pursuit of providing our readers with a single place to find all up-to-date and useful information about their options is ever ongoing. Take advantage of everything we have in store for you!