When I started this braces journey a year and a half go in November of 2017, I knew absolutely nothing about braces. I had no idea what I was getting into and what to expect.
My son Rennon has been a real trooper. He’s not completely done with his treatment yet, he still has a few months left, but I wanted to write this post about all the things I’m learning about what to expect in the last few weeks and life after the traditional metal braces are off.
We even have some signs your braces are coming off soon to help you prepare for what’s ahead with the braces finishing stages!
This post is sponsored by E&S Orthodontics. All opinions are my own.
For most tweens and teens, a normal braces total treatment time is approximately 2 years. If starting at an early age, you may to wear braces longer to wait for your baby teeth to all fall out and be replaced by the adult teeth.
But starting early, can also be a good thing to help with self esteem and take advantage of early intervention on any problem areas like overcrowding teeth or creating a more open bite.
Consider starting braces sometime between the ages of 10 and 14.
8 Things to Know When
You’re Almost Done with Braces
1. Finishing Elastics- Toward the end of the treatment, before the traditional braces come all the way off, they use finishing elastics. Finishing elastics are little rubber bands that hook to the metal brackets.
They usually zigzag on the outside in between the teeth and connect onto the braces. They help close the bite together and put on the last finishing touches to perfect teeth.
2. Retainer- I did not know this, but after the braces come off, you still have to wear a retainer.
When treatment is over, you get fitted for a retainer for the bottom and top. The retainer needs to be worn for about 8 hours a day to help keep teeth straight. Most people choose to wear them at night.
If you go more then a day or so without wearing the retainers, your upper teeth especially will start to shift back and your retainer will no longer fit anymore.
There are clear aligners available for this step at some orthodontics offices.
3. Retainer Insurance – Because retainers wear out and break, they need to be replaced. For people that grind in their sleep or clench, they can wear out and break faster.
Retainers cost around $250 per each top or bottom. Some practices will offer retainer insurance or give you one free replacement set of retainers – so make sure you ask!
With retainer insurance, you’ll pay one upfront fee to get replacement retainers top or bottom or whole new sets of both a top and a bottom for a period of time, determined by the plan.
Most retainer insurance plans will let you pay in installments. It really helps out with the large surprising cost of having to replace a lost, broken or no longer fitting retainer.
4. Permanent Retainers- This was new to me also. Permanent retainers are little wire bars that are permanently glued behind the lower teeth. They help to keep teeth straight after the braces come off.
They are used in conjunction with the removable retainers. Permanent retainers are mostly used on the bottom teeth to keep your teeth in the desired position.
They use permanent retainers on the top teeth usually only if there is a gap in the front teeth to help keep the gap closed.
5. Whitening- Sometimes after wearing braces for a year or more, teeth can become discolored. A lot of people like to get their teeth whitened after the braces come off.
It’s the perfect finish to a new perfectly straight smile. Orthodontics offices generally offer after braces whitening to make sure your new beautiful smile is looking its best.
6. Teeth Contouring- Some people choose to get teeth contouring done after they get their braces off. This is where they shape the teeth to make sure they are evenly shaped everywhere.
As teeth are moved and straightened to the correct position with braces, teeth can become uneven in their bite or across the front. To make sure your bite is good and your teeth look even and straight across the front, some people like to get contouring done.
It’s definitely an optional service, but just keep in mind that your orthodontist may bring up teeth contouring when the braces come off.
7. Big dental work Issues- If at any time in life you get big dental work done, you’ll need to see your orthodontist again. I’m talking about things like crowns that change the shape of your adult teeth in a big way.
The orthodontist will also likely want to complete panoramic x-rays to get a good look at all the teeth towards the end of wearing braces to help take care of any issues while you’re still making last minute adjustments.
After you get big dental work done, your retainer may not fit anymore. You may need to go be fitted and get a new retainer made.
8. Warning! Keep up with Dental hygiene- I’m sad to report that my teenage son is not very good with dental hygiene. It has caused some issues with his braces treatment.
I even had him watch a video when he first got his braces on about what can happen to your teeth if you do not take good care of them. He obviously didn’t listen.
He was prescribed a special fluoride toothpaste to help with protecting his teeth against cavities and such. There has even been talk about shortening his time with braces on and not completely finishing to perfection, in lieu of making sure his teeth stay healthy.
So if you have braces or will be getting them, make sure that you stay on top of dental hygiene or your teeth could end up worse than before braces.
Our Experience with
My braces journey with E&S Orthodontics has been great. The staff is nice, quick, efficient and knowledgeable. I really appreciated that we didn’t have to go through a two-phase treatment.
The goal of phase braces is to widen palettes or shift teeth that are majorly misaligned, but it means a lot of years in braces or other dental appliances, broken up over a series of years as your child grows up. There are some benefits, and it may work best for some children.
They try to get you in and out as quickly as possible. They really care for their patients and try to make coming to the orthodontist as fun and painless as possible.
They give back to their patients several times a year with free jump parties and food trucks or other events.Their waiting room is always festively decorated and stocked with cookies and coffee.
Orthodontics is a long term commitment. When choosing which orthodontist you’re going to see, choose one like E&S Orthodontics that will give you a great experience on your journey to a pretty new smile.