Oral hygiene is an important aspect of your braces treatment. After all, you’ll want your new smile to be as healthy as it is beautiful. At first, brushing and flossing with braces can seem daunting but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature. To help, the team here at Houston Orthodontics Specialists is sharing our guide to oral hygiene and braces.
The Importance of Oral Hygiene for Braces Wearers
Before we get into exactly how to brush and floss with braces, let’s talk about why it’s so important. Well, we all have bacteria in our mouth no matter how awesome we are at brushing our teeth. The bacteria feed on the sugars and starches we eat and release acids. The acids, saliva, food and bacteria then band together to form plaque, which is the sticky substance that builds up on teeth. The plaque acids eat away at the tooth enamel, which is how cavities form. It’s essential to brush and floss away plaque and food debris to prevent decay from occurring.
The brackets and wires from braces tend to trap food and plaque, so cleaning around them is essential. Getting cavities or experiencing other oral health challenges while you’re wearing braces can set your treatment back. Additionally, teeth move most effectively in a healthy oral environment.
So do you have to see your regular dentist during orthodontic treatment? Yup! It’s actually more important than ever. Continue to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings at least twice a year, or as often as they recommend. A professional cleaning can remove hardened plaque that you can’t get rid of with a regular toothbrush. A dental exam can also detect issues while they’re still easy to treat, helping to keep your smile progress on track.
How to Brush Your Teeth With Braces
You will want to brush with braces in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed. As for how to brush teeth with braces, use a non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste along with a soft-bristled toothbrush, which we find gives you more control than an electric toothbrush. Say you’re starting with your bottom teeth, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle at the gum line pointing toward the tooth and, using moderate pressure, make sure to get under the bottom of the brackets and along the gums. Then brush straight on, cleaning the bracket. Finally, brush at a 45-degree angle pointing toward the gums so you’re getting the top of the bracket. You’ll also want to brush the chewing surfaces and the back of the teeth. Repeat this on your top teeth. Give each individual tooth attention and be sure to brush around the back molars as well. Brush for at least two minutes each session.
How to Floss Teeth With Braces
Flossing with braces does bring new challenges because you have hardware in the way. We recommend opting for special floss for braces like an orthodontic flosser or floss threader to make your life easier. Be sure to floss once a day, preferably at night, in order to get rid of any plaque that has accumulated during the day. While the exact method for how to floss teeth with braces will vary depending on the tool you choose, it all starts by getting underneath your wires and in between any two set of teeth. Floss up and down the side of one tooth, going all the way to the gum line, and then up and down the side of the other. Move on to the next set of teeth until you’ve addressed every tooth. Floss around your molars too.
Oral Hygiene Extras
Beyond a toothbrush and floss for braces, there are some extras that you can use to really get your smile sparkling clean. An interproximal brush or proxy brush is a great add-on and something we recommend to our Houston braces patients. You can use this tiny brush in addition to your regular toothbrush to dislodge food and get into tight spaces around your brackets. These are great tools to bring with you on the go because they’re small, portable and perfect in a pinch if you get food trapped in your braces. If you’re at risk for tooth decay, we may also recommend including a fluoride mouthwash into your oral hygiene mix to strengthen your enamel and decrease your risk of cavities.
Our patients often ask us if they can use a Waterpik for braces. The answer is, absolutely. A Waterpik, which is a brand name of water flosser, is excellent for getting your teeth squeaky clean when you have braces. Just be sure to note that a Waterpik for braces doesn’t replace flossing. It’s something you’ll want to use in addition to your regular dental floss. The tool can help improve gum health and get rid of food and plaque.