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Metal braces are one type of orthodontic appliance commonly used to straighten and correct the positioning of teeth that are misaligned. They can also close gaps between your teeth. People of all ages, including adults, can get braces. An alternative to metal braces is plastic invisible braces. The process of using those is very different than using metal braces.

After getting your braces on, it can take as little as a few months to several years for your braces to gently pressure your teeth to move into the correct position. When the time is right, your orthodontist will ask you to schedule an appointment to remove your braces.

You might be wondering what it will feel like to free your teeth! Here’s what you can expect.

Most people do not experience pain when getting their braces removed. However, most dental work is a bit uncomfortable, and you can expect a bit of soreness when the brackets are removed. This is due to the relief of pressure from your teeth. The teeth will be sensitive because nothing is holding them together.

You can help manage any pain by taking an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen.

Braces should only be removed by a qualified orthodontist. They have the proper tools to safely remove the brackets and wires from your teeth. You may injure yourself if you try to remove your braces at home, as many of the pieces are quite sharp.

There have been several cases of people accidentally ingesting pieces of their braces. Orthodontic wires may break, and brackets may slip off teeth and be ingested or inhaled. This can result in a medical emergency. While in very few cases this has happened at an orthodontist’s office, you’re in much safer hands when you allow a professional to do the job.

There’s not one best way to prepare for the removal of your braces. However, if you’re sensitive to having dental work done, you might want to consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever prior to your appointment. You should also brush your teeth and clean your braces before your visit. This will make the removal process easier for both you and your orthodontist.

  1. To remove your braces, your orthodontist will use a special metal device to loosen each of the brackets on your teeth. This will usually pop your braces—brackets and wires—off in one piece. If you have a molar band, which is a metal band anchoring your braces to your molars, your orthodontist will slip this off as well.
  2. Following the removal of your braces, your teeth will need a thorough cleaning. That’s because braces tend to trap plaque and food in your teeth. Your orthodontist will also polish your teeth with a hard grinder, removing any residue of the adhesive used to fix your brackets to your teeth.
  3. After the cleaning, your orthodontist may take a set of X-rays and perhaps a bite impression or digital photographs. This is to check that the braces have done their job. These measurements and a digital model of your mouth may also be used to help make you a retainer. A retainer is an orthodontic device you may have to wear to maintain the work done by your braces. A retainer helps prevent your teeth from shifting. Your orthodontist will instruct you about when and how often to wear your retainer.
  4. Lastly, your orthodontist may inspect your wisdom teeth (if you have them). If your wisdom teeth are just coming in, following removal of braces, your orthodontist may suggest that you have them removed. This is to prevent future shifting of your teeth.

The whole process of removing braces, cleaning teeth, and fitting you for a retainer typically takes about an hour. It may take more or less time, depending on your individual situation.

It should be a lot easier to clean and care for your teeth following the removal of your braces. Be sure to brush several times a day, especially after meals. You may begin flossing daily as well. Using mouthwash may help reduce any discoloration caused by your braces, as can whitening treatments. In some cases, the discoloration may resolve by itself during a natural remineralization process.

If your teeth happen to be sore following the removal of your braces, you might want to consider avoiding foods that are sticky or hard. Steer clear of hard bread, popcorn, hard candies, and raw vegetables until your teeth feel normal again. If you have puffy gums, the puffiness should resolve within about 2 months of having braces removed.

If your orthodontist has fitted you for a retainer, be sure to wear it as directed. Otherwise, your teeth may shift back to their original position and you may need braces all over again! Be sure to get regular teeth cleanings, and also see your orthodontist for follow-up appointments so they can check the positioning of your teeth.

Most people who have braces look forward to the day they will be removed. The process is pretty straightforward. While it may be uncomfortable, it is rarely painful. Be sure to follow your orthodontist’s directions for aftercare, retainer use, and follow-up visits once your braces are off. Regular brushing, flossing, and cleanings will help ensure your teeth look and feel their best.