Finally, debanding day arrived for my middle daughter, and her adventure in brackets came to an over two year close. Earlier this year, my oldest daughter was able to complete her treatment plan just shy of two years. Both girls shared their wire free smiles for our Christmas card!

What to expect on Debanding Day

My daughter and I arrived for her debanding, she was called back and the orthodontist got to work removing her brackets and the glue that held them on for all these months. There were x-rays taken, and they scanned her mouth to create her individualized retainers. This process took about an hour. She then received her Hawley retainer that had been custom created for her based on images that had been taken during her previous appointment, and we returned later that day to pick up her Essix retainer. The Essix retainer is clear and more comfortable for her to wear during the day, while the Hawley retainer is worn at night. My older daughter’s follow-up treatment plan will work well with only an Essix retainer, while my middle daughter will benefit more from the Hawley retainer. Both of my daughters were prescribed to wear the retainers around the clock for the first three months. My oldest daughter has been cleared to only wear her retainer at night. My middle daughter will return after three months to be evaluated by the orthodontist for her continued plan.

Hawley retainer what to expect braces removal

Retainer Descriptions

  • Hawley Retainer – This is the traditional style of retainer, thin, tongue shaped piece of acrylic molded to fit the patients mouth, with a wire that holds the teeth in position.
  • Fixed Bonded Retainer – These retainers are an option for some people, often used on the bottom front teeth. This type of retainer is more permanent, bonded wire onto the tongue side of the teeth, not visible to onlookers.
  • Clear Aligner (we have Essix) Retainer – This is a vacuum-formed retainer that is totally clear designed to fit precisely over your teeth.clear aligner retainer what to expect braces removal

Retainer Care

Removable retainers are to be taken out before anything is eaten. For both of my daughters, we have found that a plan needs to be in place of where the retainer goes when it is taken out for eating. While the Hawley retainers are more visible, the clear retainers blend in and if not properly stowed in their case, can easily be left behind or thrown in the trash accidentally. Having an extra retainer case in their lunchbox or backpack was key for us.

Brushing the retainers with water and a mild soap, or having special retainer cleaning tablets (these can be ordered from Amazon), is the best way to keep any retainer clean. Toothpaste can be abrasive, causing damage over time. Another important step in caring for your retainer is not to leave it in an extremely hot environment (hot car, hot water), as this can damage the retainer as well.

Adjustment Period

My oldest daughter did not notice any pain or shifting in her teeth following the removal of her brackets, while my middle daughter had some discomfort for the first day or two. She described it as the uncomfortable feeling she was used to after an adjustment had been made when she was wearing braces. This did fade, and when we checked with the orthodontist, we found out that this is normal.

When I started this journey I wasn’t sure what to expect having two (now teenage) daughters work through the ins and outs of having braces. Now, 28 months later, and much less drama than expected, I am realizing our adventure in brackets is more of a lifetime commitment to oral health and a beautiful smile.


Our orthodontic experience is at Starling Orthodontics in Brentwood, where we are receiving discounted orthodontic treatment in exchange for an honest review of my experience. All information and content are an honest review of my experience.