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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Alabama chapter.

Remember the day you got your braces off feeling like you were ready to take over the world with your new, improved smile? Me too. Although I was in the minority and actually liked having braces (yes, I know I am strange), I was also excited to get them off. Being able to have gum, popcorn, and everything my orthodontist had told me I shouldn’t eat (key word shouldn’t) was something I could not wait for. After I was no longer a metal mouth, well until the permanent retainers were put in, I kept sliding my tongue over my slimy teeth waiting to show my friends what my smile looked like.

Before I was able to escape the orthodontist, they made molds of my teeth for my retainer that I would be wearing at night. If you had braces, you know the feeling when they shove that puffy almost dough-like substance into your mouth, and you just try to keep calm and not gag. A few days later, I came back to pick up my retainer and went with the mindset to wear it every single night for the rest of my life. I was never actually told how long I needed to wear it, so my guess was as good as yours.

I got my braces off almost six years ago, and besides when I got my wisdom teeth out, I have slept with my retainer every single night. Now I know you must be thinking “this girl is crazy!” and while you are partially correct, my reasons for doing this are very valid. Many parents spend lots of money on getting their kids braces, and I didn’t want my parents’ money to go to waste.

To my parents, you’re welcome for still wearing my retainer! Another reason is my teeth have not shifted one bit because of doing this, and I want them to stay straight. After doing this for so long, it has become a habit. It feels strange to not wear my retainer to bed.

Now although I wish I could convince everyone that had braces to wear their retainer every single night, but that is not realistic. One thing I will suggest is to try to wear your retainer at least a few nights a week. Ideally you are supposed to wear your retainer for a little longer than you had braces, and then a few nights a week for the rest of your life. If you have your retainer, put it to use tonight! If you try to get it in, and it’s too tight, or doesn’t fit anymore, you can always get a new one. You owe it to yourself through all the braces trouble to have the best smile you can!

Amanda Zimmerman is a senior studying Accounting at The University of Alabama. A few things she enjoys immensely are Disney, dance, traveling, Dancing With the Stars and Orangetheory Fitness!