How to Clean Your Teeth with Braces

Brushing and flossing are the ABCs of oral care. Clean your teeth regularly, and you’ll have a beautiful, healthy smile for years to come. Become lazy, and bacteria may very well eat away at your teeth and gums.

Maintaining oral hygiene is just as important, if not more important, while you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. Brushing and flossing may take a bit more work with braces affixed to your teeth, but they’re still the keys to a gorgeous smile. Want the best results from your orthodontic care? You’ll need to grab a few special tools and learn a few special techniques.

Brushing Your Teeth with Braces

What Toothbrush Should I Use? First, you’ll want the right kind of toothbrush. Brushes that feature soft bristles are ideal for people with braces, since they’re non-abrasive. Bi-level toothbrushes are also effective—the shorter bristles in the middle make room for the brackets, while the longer bristles at the end can reach all the way to the gums.

Electric toothbrushes are acceptable, but not ideal. If you do opt for an electric brush, set the power level to medium so that the vibrations don’t damage the wires. Also, be careful not to let the back of the brush touch your braces while the power is on.

Do I Need Any Special Tools? You might also want to add an interdental toothbrush to your arsenal of brushes. An interdental toothbrush looks a bit like a pipe cleaner. It’s perfect for getting those hard-to-reach places, like underneath wires, between brackets, and around bands.

If you’re really struggling to remove food particles, consider investing in a water pick. Also known as an oral irrigator, this handy device releases a jet of water that can easily dislodge stuck food particles.

How Do I Brush with Braces? When you’re wearing braces, it’s best to brush four times per day. That may seem excessive, until you realize how easy it is for food particles to get stuck in the nooks and crannies of your wires, brackets, and other small fittings. If you’re struggling to keep up, set specific times for brushing (say after breakfast, after lunch or school, after dinner, at bedtime).

At the very least, brush twice per day using a fluoride toothpaste. If you’re using a manual toothbrush, it’s best to move the brush in small, slow circles over every tooth. Holding the brush at an angle (toward the gum line) also helps, allowing you to get the gums as well as the area between the metal brackets.

When brushing, be sure to cover:

  • The front of each tooth
  • Between each bracket
  • Under the wires
  • The back of each tooth
  • Each chewing surface
  • Your tongue
  • The roof of your mouth

The entire process will take a few minutes. That may seem frustrating, but a lifetime of beautiful smiles is worth every minute.

Flossing Your Teeth with Braces

Do I Need to Floss? Yes. Food particles can build up in between your teeth, giving rise to all sorts of bacteria that will be happy to eat away at your teeth and gums. Flossing remains the only way to remove such pieces of food. With or without braces, it’s good to floss once per day. Floss before bed to remove all the particles that have built up over the day.

Do I Need Special Tools? It can be difficult to get floss underneath your archwire, but a threader will do the trick. Simply pull one end of the floss through the threader and then slide the threader up and down along the front of each tooth.

Need more help brushing around those braces? Ask the friendly staff at our Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton, or Greenbelt office to show you some more tips and tricks for keeping your teeth and gums happy and healthy.

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