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How to Care for Braces: Flossing, Brushing, and General Care

Posted on December 7, 2019

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The braces are set, now all you have to do is wait for them to work their magic, right?

Not quite.

While the braces will do the bulk of the work, you or your child need to help them out by taking extra care in your oral hygiene routine.

Because of all that metal in the way, some spots can be tough to clean and therefore more prone to cavities. You’re already paying your orthodontist extra visits – you don’t want to add extra dental care on top of it.

Here, we’ll cover how to floss with braces and the best brushing practices you need to know as well as other braces care tips so that your or your child’s teeth will stay nice and healthy.

How to Floss with Metal in the Way

woman flossing around braces

Flossing can initially seem like one of the most challenging aspects of your new dental care routine. How are you supposed to floss when there’s all that metal in the way?

Traditional flossing methods will not serve.

When it comes to how to floss with braces, the first thing you need to do is use the proper product. While traditional floss might not serve, threader floss is designed specifically to use with braces.

This floss is divided up into segments, each with one end that it tapered to a solid point so it can make its way between your teeth. This floss typically expands once it encounters moisture, creating a thick material that will get every last bit of food.

Your orthodontist will likely supply you with a small package of threaders, and Oral-B offers their own line of threader floss that you can purchase.

Best Brushing Practices to Get Everything Around Your Braces

woman brushing around braces

Once you’ve got flossing down, it’s then time to focus on brushing. While in the past you may have been used to quickly rubbing the bristles up and down your teeth, spitting, and calling it good, you need to pay a little extra care when it comes to your braces cleaning routine. Here we’ll detail how to clean braces properly while you brush.

General Brushing

When it comes to brushing your teeth, what matters isn’t so much what type of toothbrush you use, but rather how you brush—you need to know the proper brushing techniques.

You’ll want to be even more careful and thorough when brushing with braces so that you can clean around all that metal. Prior to brushing, be sure to remove any removable braces components such as rubber brands.

You’ll want to brush above your brackets, over them, and below them to ensure you get all around the front surface of the teeth. Brush at roughly a 45-degree angle, so that the bristles of your brush can really get deep between the metal and your teeth.

Also, be sure to brush along the tops and bottoms of your teeth to get that surface and in-between plaque. Don’t neglect the back of the teeth, either, especially if there is any orthodontic work back there. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t make it any less susceptible to cavities.

As always, be sure to brush your tongue before you’re done. This helps remove extra bacteria that could spread to other areas of your mouth.

In some cases, it may be recommended that you also spend some time lightly brushing your gums. Braces can sometimes cause the gums to swell, particularly in adolescents. Lightly brushing along your gums can help ease inflammation – just don’t brush too aggressively.

Other Braces Cleaning Tools

While the brush you use for your general brushing may not be of the utmost importance, there are lots of other specialized brushes and bracing cleaning tools that can help remove bits of food and leave your mouth extra clean.

  • Spiral Dental Brush: These little brushes are conical brushes great for scrubbing between the teeth. These are easier to use and actually more effective than floss, causing some to forgo floss altogether in preference of these spiral brushes. The downside of these brushes is they tend to have short lifespans.
  • Rubber-Tipped Gum Massager: This rubber-tipped tool is definitely a great product to work into your braces cleaning routine. It’s perfect for removing food and plaque between and around the teeth and your braces. Typically, it should be used prior to flossing and brushing.
  • Orthodontic-Cut Toothbrush: An orthodontic-cut toothbrush is basically cut into a V-curve. This allows you to easily achieve the recommended angles for brushing.

Other Braces Care Tips

woman with braces biting an apple

Foods to Avoid

One thing everyone knows about braces is there are some foods you can’t eat while you have them. These include popcorn, hard foods, chewy/sticky foods, and more. While it may be tempting to cheat a little and have these foods anyway, make sure that you or your child hold strong. The last thing you want is an impromptu trip to the orthodontist’s office to dislodge a stuck popcorn kernel.

Water Pick

Some orthodontists may also recommend that you add the use of a water pick to your braces cleaning routine. This will further dislodge any pesky bits of food hang in there and is great for making sure your teeth are extra clean.

Post-Braces: Cleaning Your Retainer

Once your braces are finally removed and you have a dazzling new smile, don’t slack off on your dental routine!

It’s still just as important to maintain healthy oral hygiene.

Part of this included taking care to clean your retainer. Brush them before an after you take them out each time, and disinfect them once a week to get rid of any built-up bacteria.

Contact Lewis Orthodontics to Get a Smile That Will Light Up a Room

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Lewis Orthodontics offers the knowledge and experience necessary to provide our clients with beautiful new smiles through the process of braces.

In addition to installing the braces, we also work diligently to provide you with all the braces care tips necessary so that you will know how to clean your braces properly and have healthy teeth.

If you’re interested in getting braces for either yourself or your child, please contact us online for a free consultation, or call us at (405) 330-5095.

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