More than four million Americans are undergoing orthodontic treatment right now — that includes kids, teens, and adults. Regardless of their age or their reason for seeking orthodontic treatment, they all have one thing in common: They all need to learn some new techniques for keeping their teeth, gums, and braces clean.
Brushing and flossing with braces might seem daunting. But the good news is, with just a little practice and a few simple techniques, it’s not as hard as you think. At Freedom Orthodontics, Brendan Smith, DDS, MS, helps patients of all ages in Cedar Park, Texas, learn the best ways to maintain optimal oral health during treatment. Use these brushing and flossing tips to keep your smile its healthiest throughout your care.
Before you even begin to brush, rinse your mouth well with water. This simple step can loosen a lot of food particles that might be caught in between your braces or around the brackets, making it easier to dislodge tiny particles with your brush.
Next, position your brush along your top teeth, angling the bristles slightly outward from the gums at about a 45-degree angle. Keeping the bristles angled helps them remove sticky plaque and food residue from the area where the gums meet the teeth — an area where gum disease is most likely to begin. Brush gently in a circular motion, all along the gum line on your upper arch.
Now move the brush to your brackets. Angle your brush to gently clean the tops, fronts, and bottoms of each bracket, moving from one tooth to the next, until all your brackets have been thoroughly brushed.
Once the brackets are clean, brush the backs of your teeth, again angling the bristles outward at about a 45-degree angle. Move to the bottom row of teeth and repeat the steps for each tooth and bracket.
Many people use their regular toothbrush for cleaning their teeth and braces. Others prefer to buy a special toothbrush designed specifically for cleaning around braces. Whichever you choose, the most important thing is to brush twice a day for two minutes each time and to rinse after meals. Be sure your teeth are really clean before heading to bed.
While brushing is pretty straightforward, many people find learning to floss around and between braces takes a bit more practice. Floss works by dislodging plaque and food film between teeth. Normally, that just involves gently sliding the floss between your teeth and moving it gently back and forth. But with braces, getting between teeth is more difficult due to the wires joining each bracket.
To floss effectively, consider a special floss threader. This simple, looped device looks like a big needle threader, and it works in a similar way to get the floss under your wires and between your teeth, so it can be used normally. Other options include water flossers and interdental (or interproximal) brushes. Just be sure to discuss these options with Dr. Smith before implementing them.
You can also add a mouth rinse to your routine to kill disease-causing germs that otherwise might be missed with brushing and flossing — just don’t use your rinse in place of your brush and floss.
Like any new skill, it takes a little practice to get the brushing and flossing routine down pat. Be patient and do your best. You’ll be surprised how quickly your new routine becomes a familiar routine. To learn more about caring for your braces or to learn how braces can improve your oral health, call our office or request an appointment online today.