After what can seem like a long time to someone who has braces, the magic day finally comes: the orthodontist takes the braces off! After your teeth are cleaned thoroughly, the orthodontist may actually want to repeat the process of taking X-rays and impressions of the teeth. This allows the orthodontist to really check the work, and in the case of X-rays, see if wisdom teeth are now visible. In some cases, an orthodontist may recommend that a patient have wisdom teeth removed if they do not appear to be coming in correctly after the braces have been removed. The reason? The wisdom teeth may cause the newly straightened teeth to shift and move in the mouth. And speaking of teeth shifting and moving, a very important part of orthodontic treatment is retention, or keeping the teeth in their new place. The truth is that most teens, after wearing braces and going for adjustments for up to 2 years or longer, don't want anything to do with the orthodontist or having appliances in their mouths. But even though the teeth have been successfully moved, they are still not completely stable — they need to settle in their corrected positions until the bones, gums, and muscles adapt to the change. This is usually accomplished with the use of retainers, which work by retaining the straight position of the teeth. Some retainers are made of clear plastic and metal wires that cover the outside surface of the teeth, whereas others are made of rubber. Most retainers need to be worn all the time for the first 6 months, then usually only during sleeping. How long a retainer must be worn depends on the patient —one person might wear it for a few months, while another might have to wear it for several years. Whatever the timeframe, retainers are very important; without them, the teeth could shift back into their old, crooked positions, making all the orthodontist's work and your years of patience useless! The most important things to remember when you're feeling frustrated about having a face full of braces? That during every school photo where you can't be persuaded to open your mouth because of your braces, there are millions of other people experiencing the same thing. And that no matter what, your braces will come off eventually — and you'll be left with a wonderful, straight smile.