Taking Care of Your Braces and Teeth

What is the best way to keep braces and teeth clean?

The best way to keep your braces and teeth clean is to brush and floss regularly. Brush and floss your teeth thoroughly after every meal, or at least three times a day. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste, making sure to clean each tooth, in between teeth and around the gumline.

Be sure to ask your orthodontist for special instructions, especially in choosing the right toothbrush, toothpaste and other dental products that are best to use with your kind of braces.

How do I brush my teeth if I have fixed braces?

If you have fixed braces:

  • Brush beginning with your upper teeth, working on the outside surface with your toothbrush positioned at a 45-degree angle toward the gum. Using a circular motion, do about 10 strokes over two or three teeth at a time.
  • After you finish brushing the outside surface of your upper teeth, brush the inner surfaces in the same manner.
  • Then brush the chewing surfaces.
  • Use an interdental brush (ask your orthodontist for one or get one from your local pharmacy) to remove particles from between your teeth.
  • Repeat the entire process on your lower teeth.
  • Make sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water several times. You may have a final rinse with mouthwash to leave your mouth feeling and smelling fresh. A mouthwash containing fluoride would also help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
  • Check your teeth in a mirror to make sure that you have covered all surfaces and that no food particles remain on teeth or braces.

Do I brush the same way if I have removable braces?

No, you should remove your braces first before you brush your teeth. Then brush your teeth as you ordinarily would using a fluoride toothpaste. Take care to clean outside and inner surfaces, in between teeth and chewing surfaces. Be sure to also brush your palette and your tongue, and rinse thoroughly.

Clean your braces with your toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Gently brush all areas, making sure that no food particles remain on the braces. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water.

Can I use a regular toothbrush or are there specialty brushes that do the job better?

You may use a regular toothbrush, but a soft orthodontic toothbrush would clean your teeth and braces better. Orthodontic toothbrushes usually have longer bristles on the edges and shorter ones in the middle. This design allows better cleaning between teeth and dental braces.

You can also use an electric toothbrush with a soft-bristled head. If your toothbrush has an adjustable speed, set it to moderate in order not to damage or loosen your braces.

You can supplement your regular tooth-brushing with an interdental brush. This brush is designed to fit between brace wire and teeth to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food particles.

Is it possible to floss my teeth if I have braces?

Yes, you can floss your teeth even if you have braces. There are special flossing products, floss threaders and thread that can be used with dental appliances. These products are designed to help pass dental floss under and between the wires, teeth and gumline. Ask your orthodontist to show you how to use these products properly.

How often must I floss my teeth?

You must floss your teeth at least once a day to minimize the presence of food particles in between teeth and in your braces.

Are there other instruments that I can use in cleaning my teeth and braces?

You can use an interdental brush to remove plaque and food particles in between teeth and brace wires, especially if you have difficulty flossing.

You may also want to use a water oral hygiene device, also called oral irrigator. This instrument helps remove hard-to-reach food particles from your dental braces by shooting small streams of water onto the teeth at high pressure.

Do I still need to see a dentist while I am under the care of an orthodontist?

Yes. Regular visits to your dentist are a must in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. You must visit your dentist at least twice a year, once for a checkup and another for cleaning.