Brushing and Flossing with Braces

Once you have braces, one of the most important things you’ll need to do is learn to brush and floss your teeth effectively with braces. Since plaque and food particles can easily adhere to the teeth and the brackets, having braces can make oral care more difficult. However, failure to stick to a good oral health routine may result in problems like periodontal disease, decalcification, and gingivitis. Here’s a closer look at some helpful tips you can use when brushing and flossing to keep your oral health in great shape as you wear braces. Our goal is to make sure you have a beautiful and HEALTHY smile!

Tips for Brushing with Braces

Brushing teeth properly is essential when you are wearing braces. Whenever you begin your orthodontic care, we will go over proper brushing technique with you and you should at least be brushing after each meal to keep teeth clean and healthy while you are wearing braces. Food easily collects around your braces, so you need to make sure any food particles are removed after you eat (check out this video – https://youtu.be/stSxK4PG2Hk). It’s a good idea to rinse your mouth with water before you begin brushing, since this helps loosen any food particles that are lodged in or around your braces and it makes your job of teeth cleaning much easier. You’ll need to brush the chewing surfaces, inside, and outside surfaces of the teeth. The areas between brackets and gums and those between the wires and your teeth need to be cleaned thoroughly. Otherwise food particles can easily be trapped in these areas, causing problems like gum disease.  

Effects of Poor Oral Hygiene

It’s important to spend plenty of time brushing, since it takes time to get around the wires and brackets. You should spend a minimum of three minutes on your teeth. You should avoid rushing when brushing your teeth to ensure you don’t miss any areas. Always take the time to check all the areas of your mouth and braces after brushing to make sure you don’t miss any areas. We always suggest brushing your teeth before you get tired so that you can make sure your teeth are clean. Below are some tips that will help you keep your teeth in tip-top shape during your orthodontic care.

  • Use a timer. 3 minutes is a long time and most people feel they have been brushing their teeth much longer than they actually have.
  • Be systematic. Brush each area and go from one to another to make sure you don’t skip any surfaces.
  • Check your job with a hand mirror. A hand or makeup mirror will allow you to get a closer look at your teeth and all the teeth and braces should be smooth and shiny. If you look closely and see fuzz then go over that spot again.
  • Harder is NOT better. Treat your teeth like fine jewelry and use a gently touch. Do not scrub them like you are cleaning grout. Brushing too hard can actually damage your gums and teeth!
  • Practice with just water While you are learning the best technique, we suggest using just water for the first half so that you can see what you are doing without the foaming toothpaste and then use the toothpaste for the second half.

Some of the helpful tools that can make brushing and cleaning teeth easier when you have braces include:

  • Soft-bristle toothbrush
  • Interdental toothbrush, also known as a proxy brush: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LGIhCG1lvo&feature=youtu.be
  • Quality fluoride toothpaste: We will also suggest a prescription toothpaste if it would be beneficial.
  • Water picks, which use pressurized water to help clean teeth, eliminating trapped bits of food.

Tips for Flossing with Braces

Flossing can already be a bit difficult, but when you add braces to the mix, it’s even more challenging. The wires don’t allow for traditional flossing, but you still need to floss regularly to keep plaque and food particles from staying between teeth. Since it’s so tough to get floss between teeth and the wires when flossing, getting the right tool can be helpful. We give all of our patients an orthodontic floss threaders, which are disposable and inexpensive to purchase. This tool makes it easy for you to pull floss through your teeth above the braces wires, making it easier to get to your gum line. We also give our patients small orthodontic flossers that can make the job a little easier.

Using waxed floss is a great idea too when flossing with braces. If you use non-wax floss, it may catch on your braces, leaving behind pieces of shredded floss. The waxed floss when used with a floss threader will easily sleep between your teeth without as much risk of catching. Our personal favorite is a “tape” style floss that tends to be the easiest to get between braces. While flossing with braces will take you nearly twice as long as it does without braces, it’s essential to stick with this routine daily to prevent oral health problems.

A good fluoride rinse can also be helpful in addition to brushing and flossing your teeth daily. You can easily find fluoride rinses available at the store. If you have any specific concerns you can ask at your next appointment and we will be happy to make a recommendation.  Using the fluoride rinse daily can help offer you even more protection against white spots and cavities while you are wearing braces.

Brushing and flossing are important parts of oral hygiene that can make your orthodontic treatment more successful, so you need to follow these tips to ensure you’re doing it correctly. Please make sure you also keep your regular cleaning appointment with your dentist. While we are both dentists, your dentist and hygienist are experts and monitoring the health of your teeth and gums and it is extremely important to keep your cleaning appointments every 4-6 months.

Having good brushing and flossing techniques and routine during your orthodontic care will greatly help you make sure your teeth are healthy for years to come. Having a wonderful smile is a great blessing but you always have to work hard keeping your teeth healthy so you can enjoy your smile for years to come.

Learn more about braces or schedule an appointment to learn about how you may benefit from orthodontic care, please give us a call.