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There’s a scene in the film “Peggy Sue Got Married,” a time-traveling classic from the 1980s, in which the protagonist, Kathleen Turner, tells her grandfather that she has returned from the future and has a chance to change everything about her life.

What, she asks him, would he do differently if he could relive his life?

“I would’ve taken better care of my teeth,” he tells her.

Maybe that’s not the most philosophical of answers, but it certainly registers with any adult who has ever had dental problems that could have been prevented had they prioritized oral health in their youth.

Along these lines, it’s sometimes very difficult to get kids to understand the impact their current actions might have on their well-being later in life.

This is particularly true of the newly de-braced.

Though we here at Bluffton Orthodontics pride ourselves on making our patients’ office visits as fun and as fast as possible, we know there’s only one visit they truly love: the day the braces come off.

It really is an awesome moment. It’s so cool for us to see their big smiles and happy faces.

We want our patients to celebrate this day, to eat some of (not all of) the foods they couldn’t, to run their tongues across their newly smooth teeth all day long and to Snap away to their hearts’ content.

And we really hate to burst any balloons, but who are we if not the voices of orthodontic reason?

The day after the braces come off is the first day of what we hope will be a lifelong commitment to maintaining all our patients’ hard work to achieve that perfect smile.

Since “lifelong commitment” is an overwhelming thought for young people, we have come up with two very basic behaviors to adopt and three reality checks to help those basics sink in:

Basic No. 1: Your gums and teeth are going to be tender for a while after the braces come off so wait a month to schedule a professional cleaning. Then schedule a professional cleaning for every six months after that. You will do this for the rest of your life.

Reality check: If you’ve ever heard someone be described as having “buzzards’ breath” or as “the guy with four teeth,” you can bet that person did not stick to their cleaning schedule.

Basic No. 2: Wearing your retainer really is important. It’s not just a suggestion. Your retainer will help keep your beautiful teeth in place and your bite in alignment. If you hate wearing it or are having problems with it, please talk to us about that because your retainer will be a part of your life for a long time.

Reality check: Adult braces. If you skip the retainer too often, it will catch up with you and you might have to have braces again later in life or suffer the consequences — such as creating uneven wear and tear on your teeth because of a misaligned bite or being more and more hesitant to smile because you’re self-conscious about your teeth. Why go through any of this again if you don’t have to?

If you have any questions about life after braces or if you’re in the “wishing I took better care of my teeth” camp and want to learn more about realignment options, give Bluffton Orthodontics a call at 843-815-2521.

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