Brushing with Braces
Luckily, brushing with braces isn’t that much different than it is without braces. You’ll just need to be a little extra careful. Making sure those tooth surfaces are clean around the brackets and wires can be tricky, but with practice, patience, the right tools and tricks, you’ll become a pro!
Here’s our first trick: research has shown that you should floss before you brush. It helps remove the plaque between teeth and then you can brush it away.
The Same Rules Apply:
- Brush at least twice a day
- Use a soft bristle toothbrush or electric brush
- Brush for 2 minutes (sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star twice)
- Be gentle—loosely grip the toothbrush
- Hold the brush at a 45° angle to the gums for the front and back surfaces
- Replace the toothbrush every 3 months or sooner if needed
- Get all the surfaces: fronts, sides, backs and chewing surfaces
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue
Brushing With Braces Takes a Few Extra Steps
While brushing with braces is basically the same, there are some specific things you should do in addition to just the regular rules listed above. First, is to remove any elastics or removable appliances before you start brushing.
In a perfect world, you would brush your teeth after you eat. Every time. Brackets and wires can trap food particles and if you don’t brush, those particles start to produce plaque on the teeth fairly quickly, which leads to tooth decay. When you can’t brush, take some water in your mouth and swish it around vigorously. This will help to remove as much food as possible without brushing.
Your orthodontist may recommend a fluoride rinse while you are wearing your braces. This should be done once a day and you shouldn’t rinse with water after. If you aren’t told to use a special fluoride rinse, you can help protect your teeth by not rinsing after you brush. The fluoride in toothpaste will help prevent cavities since cleaning your teeth with braces can be challenging and could increase the rate of tooth decay.
It’s a good idea to get in the habit of using an interdental brush (or proxy brush) once each day. Even though you’ll be flossing every day (RIGHT?), an interdental brush can help dislodge anything that gets stuck between your teeth. Use the proxy brush when you aren’t flossing your teeth. Your orthodontist can give you a few or you can purchase them at any drugstore where they are located near the floss.
Interdental proxy brushes are small and can easily be carried in your pocket! They work much better than toothpicks and are much more discreet than using floss. They’re great to have on hand whenever you’ll be out and about.
You May Need to See the General Dentist More
Don’t be surprised if your general dentist wants to see you for a cleaning every 3-4 months instead of every 6 months. Even the most diligent brushers and flossers can miss things when braces are involved. And some people are just more prone to decay than others. It will also help catch any cavities while they are small.
Walton & Maready Orthodontics is happy to show you the proper way to brush, in person or through telehealth, no matter how many times you need a refresher. We’ll also let you know at each of your checkups if you’re doing a good job or if there are areas that need improvement. Our goal is to provide you orthodontic care that leaves you with the beautiful, healthy smile you’ve dreamed of!