According to Humana, approximately 4 million children, young adults and adults are using braces to achieve a beautiful smile in the United States. Whether you've only had to wear braces for a short time or have been caring for your braces for years, getting the word from your orthodontist that it is time to remove the metal from your mouth is a great feeling. You're ecstatic that this experience is over but aren't sure what happens next. Here is what you can expect on the day when your braces finally come off:

The Process of Removing Braces

You might be nervous about the actual removal of the braces, and your biggest question might be: Will it hurt? Luckily, the pain associated with removing your braces is minimal, and according to Dr. Brandon Martin, a contributor to Health Tap, the entire process should only take about 30 minutes!

First, your orthodontist will carefully remove any rubber bands. Next, they will use a specialized pair of pliers to carefully pull the wires away from the metal brackets. Once the wires are gone, the dentist can use a specialized tool to remove the brackets from the adhesive on your teeth.

Again, you may feel some pressure but this process is very quick and won't hurt.

Finally, your dentist will use a special buffer to carefully scrape away the adhesive from all of your teeth. This device will also polish the tooth's enamel, making it appear as though you never had braces in the first place.

What Will My Teeth Look Like?

Once your braces are gone, your gums will probably be swollen, red and a little sore. Don't worry because this is temporary. Additionally, you might notice a few yellow or white spots on your teeth. The yellow is tartar buildup, which can be easily removed by your dentist.

Any white spots, bands or discolorations are called white scars. These scars are actually decalcified areas that occur when plaque is allowed to remain on your teeth for extended periods of time. Your dentist will prescribe you a specialized paste that is applied directly to the white scars to help repair the enamel.

Caring For Your Teeth Once the Braces Are Off

Now that your braces are off, it is just as important to care for your teeth and follow your orthodontist's orders. Your orthodontist may recommend scheduling a cleaning to help remove any plaque, tartar or other build-up on your teeth.

Avoid certain foods and beverages until your gums are less sensitive, or as directed by your orthodontist. Foods and beverages that are too hot or cold and foods that are crunchy or chewy – such as potato chips, peanut brittle or taffy -- can aggravate your sensitive teeth and gums, leading to discomfort.

Talk to your orthodontist before scheduling a tooth whitening procedure or using an at-home tooth whitening kit. The enamel on your teeth is very sensitive after removing the braces, and using a bleaching kit too soon can actually cause serious damage or discoloration.

Will I Need A Retainer?

Many times, an orthodontist will provide you with a retainer. Wearing this retainer as ordered by the orthodontist is critical because it will help keep your newly-straightened teeth from shifting. There are many different types of retainers available, and the type your orthodontist prescribes will be based upon the length of time you had your braces and how severely your teeth are shifting.

However, according to WebMD, the majority of people will only need to wear their retainer full-time for the first six months. After that, the retainer is then only worn at night.

Impaired speech and excessive drooling are all associated with wearing retainers. Don't worry because these issues will typically only last a few days, according to Kids Health.

Getting your braces taken off can be scary, especially if you're concerned about the pain and aftercare associated with a retainer. If you have any concerns about the process of removing your braces, don't hesitate to contact a professional orthodontist, such as those at Reed Orthodontics