Brushing and Flossing with Braces

Mother and daughter brushing teeth together

When you have braces, it’s very important to brush and floss after every meal in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your orthodontic treatment. If you need help choosing the right toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss, please ask us. We’re more than happy to help you choose the right products for your teeth and your appliance.

Brushing with Braces

Brush your teeth for two minutes after every meal with a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. As an alternative, you can use a powered toothbrush to increase your brushing effectiveness. Brush the outside and inside surfaces of your teeth using small, gentle, circular motions while positioning the head of the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. Brush your teeth’s chewing surfaces and the inside surface of your front teeth using short, gentle, back-and-forth motions. Pay close attention to the areas around your brackets or other appliances.

Flossing with Braces

Flossing braces with an interdental brush

It’s no secret that flossing is one of the least popular and least completed oral health activities. But flossing is one of the most effective ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy—people just don’t like to do it. Unfortunately, braces do make flossing more complicated, which could make you even less likely to do it.

Flossing after every meal will help keep your teeth and braces clean, which will also help keep your treatment time on track, and it’s not as difficult as it might seem. With the right tools and strategies, flossing with braces can be even easier than traditional flossing.

Traditional Flossing

Flossing braces with traditional floss

It is possible to floss with braces, using the ordinary floss you already own, but it takes a little practice. You can’t just slide the floss between your teeth like you usually would because the wire is in the way. You can thread floss behind the wire manually if you have the dexterity and the patience, but you don’t have to. A floss threader will speed up the process by making it easier to guide the floss behind the wire. Importantly, make sure you’re using waxed floss; unwaxed floss can tear or shred in your braces, which is the opposite of what you want.

An even better solution are disposable flossers designed for use with braces. They differ from ordinary disposable flossers in that one side is especially thin, allowing it to fit between your tooth and the archwire. That way, you can jump from tooth to tooth without really needing to think about the wire at all. You’ll still want to floss with care, though. Too much outward pressure could break a bracket loose or pop the wire out of place.

Waterpik/waterflosser

Waterflossing braces

A waterpik or water flosser is another popular option for people with braces. Instead of using thread to clean your mouth’s hard to reach places, a water flosser essentially pressure washes your teeth with a thin but powerful stream of water.

To use a water flosser, you fill up a reservoir with water from your sink (pour in a little mouthwash for an added antibacterial bonus) and power it on. An electric pump sends water down a thin tube and into your mouth. When ready, move the water stream along your gum line and between each tooth, just as you would conventional floss.

Some water flosser models even come with soft-bristle brushes and other attachments that allow you to brush and floss at the same time, saving you time and effort while still keeping your teeth clean. With the right water flosser you could turn your brushing and flossing routine into the oral hygiene equivalent of an automatic car wash.

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