One of the most important aspects of your orthodontic treatment is making sure you keep your teeth clean with regular brushing and flossing.
Braces can create a temporary oral hygiene challenge, but spending a little extra effort to care for your teeth while you have braces is more than worth it. Not only does it ensure you get the best possible results from your treatment, it also sets you up with skills and habits that will serve you well for the rest of your life!
Lozman Orthodontics is committed to making your journey to a straighter smile a pleasant one. Below you’ll find a few of our favorite tips for keeping your teeth clean and your gums healthy while you have braces.
How Braces Affect Oral Hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for preventive care. It keeps your teeth and gums clean and free of cavities, gum disease and bad breath. This is true in every stage of your life, whether you have braces or not.
With braces, you may spend more time cleaning your teeth than you’re used to. Food particles can easily get stuck around the brackets, and the archwire can make it difficult to floss. Patients who do not adjust their oral hygiene routine to accommodate their braces can develop stubborn plaque, swollen gums, bad breath, cavities and permanent white marks on their teeth.
You can avoid these setbacks by following your orthodontist’s recommendations for brushing and flossing with braces. Maintaining proper oral hygiene helps minimize your time in treatment and contributes to a healthy result when your braces come off.
How to Brush With Braces
The brackets and wires in your braces create nooks and crannies where food particles can get trapped and bacteria can thrive. Brushing thoroughly with the right toothbrush and toothpaste helps keep your braces and teeth squeaky clean.
The best toothbrush to use with braces has the following characteristics:
- Small brush head
- Flexible neck
Manual toothbrushes and electric toothbrushes can both work effectively. The right choice is the one that you like best and are most likely to use regularly. Change the toothbrush or electric toothbrush head at least every three months, and change it sooner if you notice signs of wear.
Fluoride toothpaste that is approved by the American Dental Association is recommended. Fluoride helps protect your teeth against decay by strengthening their enamel. Do not use whitening toothpaste while you have braces, as the whitening agent can only affect the places it touches. It will not whiten underneath the bracket, and the color will be uneven when your braces come off.
Once you have your brush and toothpaste ready, follow these simple steps for fail-proof cleaning:
- Rinse your mouth with water to remove food particles
- Hold your brush at the gum line at a 45-degree angle
- Move the brush in a circular motion over every tooth
- Thoroughly brush both the front and back of your teeth and around the brackets
- Switch to a back and forth motion for the crowns of your molars
- Brush your tongue as well
- Be gentle and patient! Mild pressure and brushing for three to five minutes do the trick
Repeat this routine two to three times a day or after every meal. Be sure to brush for at least two minutes each time you brush, and consider brushing longer while you have braces. Always brush your teeth before you go to bed.
Don’t forget to brush your tongue to keep your breath fresh and remove bacteria. Your tongue can harbor half of all the bacteria in your mouth, so keeping it clean is a vital part of improving overall oral health!
How to Floss With Braces
Flossing is a crucial component of successful orthodontic treatment and maintaining good oral health over your lifetime. Flossing helps get rid of food particles and plaque in places that brushing alone can’t reach: between your teeth and under the gum line. Failing to remove plaque can lead to a variety of diseases in your teeth and gums.
But how exactly do you floss when there’s a wire in the way? Follow these simple steps to floss when you have braces:
- Break off about seven inches of waxed dental floss
- Thread one end of the floss beneath the archwire and between your teeth
- Wrap one end of the floss around your index finger
- Move the floss to the sides and floss in a “C” shape
- Wriggle the floss between your teeth and underneath the gum line
- Repeat these steps until you’ve flossed between all your teeth
- Use a floss threader, such as Oral-B Glide, for easier flossing with braces
Brushing two to three times daily and flossing at least once a day will help keep your gums healthy and your teeth cavity-free. Ideally, you should floss after every meal. But if you have to choose the best time of day to floss, choose bedtime or after your last meal.
Other Tools to Help With Oral Hygiene
Old-fashioned manual toothbrushes and waxed dental floss are perfectly efficient, braces or not. But some braces wearers can benefit from tools like the ones below to make oral hygiene easier:
Orthodontic Toothbrush: Toothbrushes designed for braces help ensure thorough cleaning, thanks to their unique design. These brushes have V-shaped bristles, with longer bristles on the sides than in the middle.
Electric Toothbrush: Powered toothbrushes with small, circular heads that rotate around each tooth achieve a thorough cleaning. Some even have vibrating brush heads that produce frequencies that break down plaque.
Interproximal Brush: These brushes resemble a tiny bottle brush or mascara wand, with bristles that are easy to navigate around brackets and wires. Interproximal brushes are great at dislodging food particles trapped between your teeth and your appliance.
Water Irrigators: Water irrigators, or water flossers, are a safe and effective alternative to flossing for removing plaque between teeth. They are a helpful tool for those who struggle to clean around their braces with traditional floss.
Dental Flosser: A dental flosser is another alternative to traditional floss for braces. It comes with disposable picks with floss firmly attached between two picks. Choose ones specifically designed for braces.
Fluoride Mouth Rinse: Mouthwash helps remove debris and bacteria from your teeth, gums and appliance, and helps prevent a number of oral conditions. Choose one that contains fluoride for added protection against cavities and gum disease.
If you have any questions about oral hygiene while you or your child has braces, we are here to help! Contact Lozman Orthodontics to speak with a member of our team.