How to Clean Your Teeth When You’re Wearing Braces

At Markham Orthodontics, we understand the need to feel confident and comfortable every time you look in the mirror or every time you take a picture at a family gathering or an outing with friends. If you are ready to work towards the smile of your dreams, we are here to help you every step of the way until you reach your goal of a brand new, happy, healthy, and perfect smile.

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, there are currently four million people wearing braces in the U.S, with approximately one million of them being over the age of 18.  While braces are the go-to option for those looking to get a straighter, more aesthetically appealing smile, they can be quite an adjustment. But, with Dr. David Markham, you can rest assured that your teeth are in good hands.

Along with the rest of the Markham Orthodontics team, Dr. Markham has compiled a list of useful tips to help you keep your braces in the best shape possible. After all, the better you take care of your braces, the better your results will be when treatment is complete.

How Can I Thoroughly Clean My Teeth While Wearing Braces?

Because the road to perfect teeth requires dedication and effort, we want to make sure to give you all of the information to be successful and so that you can keep your new smile for a lifetime.

So, even though you have decided on getting braces, you may have some questions that go beyond already knowing that brushing your teeth is important, so let’s take a look at how a general practice is different with braces.

Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine is imperative for the proper care of your teeth and braces while undergoing your orthodontic treatment. Brushing is the cornerstone of great oral health, so let’s get started.

Brush Properly and Brush Often

To start, rinse your mouth with water before brushing. This practice can be very helpful in removing debris and food particles from around your brackets before brushing. If you use either a manual or electric toothbrush, we recommend dividing your mouth into four sections and brushing each quadrant for at least 30 seconds.

Holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, brush gently above, below, and between your brackets in circular motions. Don’t forget about the chewing surfaces of your teeth. During this step, an interdental brush might be your best friend because it can allow you to get to any hard-to-reach places between your teeth and your brackets or wires.

Brushing your braces requires a little more time and effort. Instead of brushing two or three times per day, you’ll need to brush after every meal, including snacks. For best results, we recommend you use fluoride toothpaste and a brush with soft bristles or a toothbrush made specifically to use with braces.

Keep in mind that by a general rule, you should brush for at least 2 minutes and also include the roof of the mouth, the gum line, and the tongue.

You should generally replace a toothbrush every three to four months. However, braces can cause a toothbrush to fray quickly, be sure to replace your toothbrush as soon as it starts to show signs of wear.

Floss, Floss, Floss

Attempting to floss with braces can be a challenge. But, it’s an important part of your oral hygiene routine that you shouldn’t overlook. Flossing can help remove any excess plaque or food particles that can still be stuck in between teeth even after brushing, reducing the likelihood of bacteria forming in your mouth.

If you will be using regular dental floss, there is a tried and true method to use with braces, but this method will take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Thread the floss between the main wire and your teeth. It helps to be in front of a mirror so you can watch the thread to make sure it’s going where you’d like it to.
  • Wrap the ends of the floss around your index fingers to make handling the floss easier.
  • Gently press the floss between two teeth and slide it up and down along the sides of both teeth. If you’re doing the top teeth, make an upside-down U shape: Go up the side of one tooth to the gum line, and then go down the side of the other tooth.
  • Remove the floss and gently unthread it from behind the wire. Be careful not to pop the floss out of the tooth. You might accidentally knock the wire and pop it out of the bracket.
  • Move to the next pair of teeth and repeat the process.

Consider a Floss Threader

If regular floss isn’t doing the job, floss threaders can be helpful since they are reusable and allow you to reach easily underneath the wire and along the curve of the gum line.

Floss threaders are inexpensive but indispensable tools that you can find at your local grocery store or pharmacy in the oral care section. To correctly use floss threaders, follow these simple steps:

  • Pull a piece of waxed floss through the eye of the floss threader.
  • Insert the point of the plastic needle under the wire of your braces. Gently pull the floss through the wire. Hold the floss threader in one hand.
  • Wrap the floss around your index fingers to give you more control over the thin thread.
  • Gently press the floss between the two teeth, and slide it up and down along the sides of both teeth. If you’re doing the top teeth, make an upside-down U shape: Go up the side of one tooth to the gum line, and then go down the side of the other tooth.
  • Gently pull the floss out from between the teeth, and pull the floss out from behind the wire.

Avoid applying too much pressure on your teeth when flossing, as you wouldn’t want to cause any damage to your braces!

Steer Clear of Certain Foods While Wearing Braces

Wearing braces doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your favorite foods. But, certain dietary adjustments need to be made to ensure you have a smooth orthodontic treatment process. Avoid smoking, sugar-packed drinks, and eating anything sticky, crunchy, hard, or chewy. Foods with these types of textures can likely bend or break the wire in your braces or lead to tooth decay in hard-to-reach areas.

  • Chewy foods–bagels, licorice, pizza crust, barbecue ribs, chicken wings
  • Crunchy foods–popcorn, chips, ice, pretzels, lollipops, hard taco shells
  • Sticky foods–caramel apples, Starburst, Skittles, chewing gum, gummy candies, fruit roll-ups, toffee, peanut brittle
  • Hard foods–nuts, celery, hard candies, carrots, apples, corn on the cob, beef jerky

Now that you know the ins and outs of oral cleaning while undergoing orthodontic treatment with traditional metal braces, you’re ready for the next step.

Make an Appointment Today!

Making sure your teeth stay clean, carving out time to floss, and managing your eating habits are simple yet effective steps you can take to make sure you’ll have a camera-ready smile as soon as the braces come off. Ready to set your smile straight? Contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Markham. After all, obtaining a winning smile is a team effort.