How to Care for Your Teeth After Braces

There’s a lot to learn when you first get braces on. How to brush and floss with braces, what not to eat, not to mention checking to make sure there’s nothing stuck in them after lunch. But what you might not expect is how much there is to learn after the braces come off! Keeping your teeth straight and healthy is a lifelong commitment that continues after you stop your regular orthodontic visits. 

At RiverView Orthodontics, we want to help set you up for success while you are in treatment and for years and years to come! Let’s spend a little time talking through some of the most essential things you’ll need to know about caring for your oral hygiene after braces come off, and then a few more special topics that can help you up your game even more!

The Basics 

Dental Cleanings

One of the best things you can do for your oral health after getting your braces off is to schedule a cleaning at your dentist’s office. While we are confident that you diligently cared for your teeth when the braces were on, the truth is that it’s hard to get the thorough clean that your teeth need. 

Your dentist will want to check out your teeth to be sure that they are healthy and then give them a good cleaning. It should feel good to know that your teeth are not only beautifully straight but also sparkling clean! The next step is to go ahead and schedule your next visit in 6 months!

Regular Oral Hygiene Routine

This one might be obvious, but once the braces are off you’ll need to be diligent to maintain your daily oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing with braces on can be quite the process, and with some patients, it might be tempting to slack off a bit once the braces are off. But we disagree! Now is the time to build up your daily habits that will last the rest of your life, keeping your teeth healthy as you age.

Dr. Mike Upton at RiverView Orthodontics recommends that his patients brush their teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day, in the morning and evening. You will also need to floss at least once a day or use a water flosser. That is the baseline, but you can also add mouthwash rinses if you like that extra clean feeling. 

Wearing and Caring for Your Retainers

A retainer is one of the biggest new adjustments that will come after your braces are off. It’s what will maintain your straight teeth for the rest of your life, while forgetting to wear a retainer puts you at risk of your smile shifting. Be sure to wear your retainer as your orthodontist suggests which might change as time passes. Often Dr. Mike Upton recommends his patients who have just had their braces removed to wear their retainer for 22 hours a day, and then will slowly taper to nighttime use only. Be sure to check with your orthodontist to verify your unique treatment plan.

To keep your retainer clean you will need to brush it at least once per day; we recommend the morning when you brush your teeth. Because removable retainers are made from plastic or acrylic, you shouldn’t use your regular toothbrush or toothpaste–instead set aside a toothbrush just for your retainer, and choose a gentle cleanser like alcohol-free mouthwash or hand soap. Rinse the retainer in lukewarm water, and then scrub it with the reserved toothbrush and cleaner, and rinse well. Now your retainer is clean and ready to be worn or stored for later use. 

Extras to Consider

Sensitive teeth

One thing to make note of is that some people experience tooth sensitivity when they first have their braces removed. It doesn’t occur for all people, but those who do experience it should know that it is very normal and typically passes within a few days or weeks. The sensitivity comes from removing the brackets that have been covering part of your tooth enamel for months or years. When this part of the enamel is once again exposed to air and different temperatures from your food and drinks, it can take them a while to adjust. You should be feeling better in no time, just be patient.

Teeth whitening

Many of our patients at RiverView Orthodontics are excited to try out teeth whitening once their braces come off. Nice straight teeth pair wonderfully with sparkling white teeth! Before you decide which whitening method to try, here are a few things to consider. 

Whitening toothpaste and store-bought whitening kits can both be effective tools to get a brighter smile, but the results do vary from person to person, and the whitening effects might wear off sooner. Professional treatments are better for those who want a really long-lasting, white smile, or for those who might have stains on their teeth after getting braces off. Talk to your dentist about their in-house whitening treatments, and decide based on your situation and budget. 


You may not be familiar with the term, but bruxism is the medical condition of grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw. This condition is not one to take lightly, as it can seriously impact your tooth and jaw health. If you struggle with bruxism, there are several approaches that medical providers might take, including oral devices to separate teeth and keep them from grinding or working on stress relief practices and lifestyle adjustments. You should talk to your doctor and dentist about the best ways to move forward in order to prevent bigger issues like enamel erosion and TMJ pain. You also don’t want to damage a new retainer!

How to Care for Your Teeth After BracesLet’s Create the Smile of Your Dreams

RiverView Orthodontics has been assisting our patients with their orthodontic treatment for many years. Dr. Mike Upton is eager to help people in the Demopolis and Tuscaloosa area who are ready to find their most confident, beautiful smiles, and to help keep their teeth healthy. Get in touch with us at one of our two offices to see how our team of professionals can help you!