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How Are Braces Removed From Teeth?

By Erin Stertz-Follett ; Updated June 13, 2017

You have undergone months, or perhaps years, of orthodontic treatment in the form of dental braces and now it is time to have them removed. Understanding the process that your orthodontist will follow to remove your braces will help you better know what to expect. The removal of braces is a relatively quick and painless procedure. In fact, it is easier in many respects than putting them on.

Elastics Removal

Braces must be removed in the reverse order from how they were applied. Therefore, the small elastic bands that are placed around each bracket to hold the wiring system in place must be taken off first. Your orthodontist will use a small dental instrument with a hook to carefully remove each band.

Wire Removal

After the elastic bands removed, your orthodontist has access to the wires that sit on top of the brackets and act as the main mechanism for straightening the teeth. He or she will use a small pliers to gently detach the wire from the groove on the top of each bracket and from the anchor bands that may be located on the molars in the back of your mouth.

Bracket and Molar Band Removal

The brackets glued to each of your teeth are designed to come loose if a certain amount of pressure is applied to bend the base and separate them from the teeth. Your orthodontist will use special pliers to squeeze and remove each bracket individually. Because the separation of the bracket and tooth occurs at the point where the bracket met the adhesive keeping it in place, residue will remain on the tooth until it is polished and cleaned. The pliers are also used to remove the bands that may fully encompass your molars. Because additional pressure is needed for this part of the procedure, you may feel some slight discomfort.

Polishing and Cleaning

Your orthodontist or a dental assistant will use a high-speed dental hand piece to remove excess glue residue from each tooth and polish the surface. This is similar to having your teeth cleaned and polished during a standard dental appointment. The tooth enamel is not disturbed, although there may be some temporary sensitivity while your teeth adjust to the absence of the brackets.

Next Steps

After the removal of your braces, your orthodontist will discuss the need for you to continue orthodontic care in the form of permanent or temporary retainers to encourage the ongoing straightness of your teeth. He or she may also take final pictures, x-rays or impressions of your teeth to more thoroughly assess how successful your braces were in straightening your teeth.

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