Caring for your teeth while you have braces is essentially the same as caring for your teeth without braces: Brush thoroughly at least twice a day and floss at least once a day.
Your goal is to keep food particles from accumulating between and around your teeth and in your braces. If not brushed away, these particles harden and turn into plaque. The bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease thrive on plaque. Generally, it takes 24 hours for plaque to form, which is why your dentist recommends flossing every day to disrupt plaque formation. Your flossing and brushing will remove the bacteria and help prevent plaque, but once the plaque has hardened, only a dental professional can remove it effectively.
When you have braces, you need to take special care to keep your them, as well as your teeth and gums, free of plaque.
Watch this video to learn the correct way to brush your teeth.
Here is the basic plan you should follow for brushing your teeth while you have braces:
- Brush your teeth thoroughly at least two times a day to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces; the best times to do this are right after school and at bedtime.
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush, move the brush in small, circular motions to reach food particles that may have lodged under your gum line.
- Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces and on the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to brush your teeth this way. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outsides, insides and chewing surfaces of your front and back teeth.
- Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.
- Spend most of your brushing and flossing time right after school. This may take up to 20 minutes. At bedtime brush for two minutes and rinse with fluoride, if prescribed, for one minute before sleeping.
- Replace your toothbrush as soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray. Having braces means you will probably need to replace your toothbrush more often.
- Make sure you reach with your toothbrush under your archewires, even though this may sometimes be difficult.
- Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing.
- For optimal oral hygiene, floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash and fluoride treatment throughout your orthodontic treatment and after.
Watch the video on the correct way to floss.
Here are tips for flossing while you have braces:
- Use floss to remove food particles and plaque in areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.
- Use the reusable floss threader provided by our office to floss under your archwire daily. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser through the threader and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. You will be able to feel when the tooth is clean and hear the squeak of the floss against your clean teeth. Use care around your archwire and do not floss too forcefully around it or put too much pressure on it. After you floss between your archwire and braces, floss between your other teeth and gums.
- If you are flossing without the floss threader, pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.
- When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, inform a staff member at your next appointment.