How do I keep my teeth clean when I have braces?
Updated: Nov 9, 2022
Taking care of your teeth while you're in orthodontic treatment is critical for achieving a healthy and beautiful smile. Improper oral hygiene can lead to gingivitis (puffy gums), sore gums, white spot lesions (white scars on the teeth), or cavities around the brackets. But how do you keep your teeth clean when the brackets and wires get in the way?
There are many dental aids available at your local pharmacy or online that were specifically designed for patients with braces. Let’s review a few of these:
Proxabrushes. We like to call these Christmas tree brushes. These narrow brushes fit comfortably under the wire and clean those areas your toothbrush can’t reach. Be sure to use gentle pressure so you don’t accidentally stab your gums or pop the wire out of the brackets. Here are a few brands of proxabrushes that Dr. Bloom prefers:
Dental Flossers (for braces). Most people have seen this type of flosser in store, but flossers for braces have one small difference: a flat end that can easily slide under the wire. Regular flossers are too bulky and can't be used when you have braces. We love these two brands of orthodontic flossers:
Oral-B ®Super Floss™ and Floss Threaders. For some patients, the dental flossers listed above are awkward and difficult to use. Super Floss™ is an excellent alternative and will fit into very tight spaces. The proper way to use Super Floss™ is to use the stiff, blue end of the floss and thread it under the wire. Then, floss in a down-and-up motion as you would normally do without braces. If you can't find Super Floss™, you can also use a floss threader and regular floss to get the same result. Floss threaders resemble a very gentle and flexible sewing needle and allow the patient to thread the floss under the wire relatively easily.
WaterPik®. WaterPik® water flossers are a popular option for patients that hate using traditional string floss. It works by shooting a stream of water against your teeth and gums to remove plaque and food debris. While it's not as effective as traditional floss, it's certainly much better than not flossing at all!
Another question that we get asked a lot is whether it's best to use an electric toothbrush or manual toothbrush. Generally speaking, electric toothbrushes are slightly better at removing plaque than a manual toothbrush. However, even an expensive electric toothbrush won’t do a great job if you don’t use it correctly! Proper technique means cleaning around the entire bracket and under the wire. Most patients miss the area between their gums and the bracket which can cause significant gum swelling and those nasty white spots on the enamel (see picture below). Watch this video to see how to properly brush and floss your teeth with braces:
LIFE WITH BRACES -BRUSHING AND FLOSSING VIDEO
This picture shows a patient that did not take the time to properly brush and floss their teeth during orthodontic treatment. How disappointing!! With proper technique and a little extra effort you can avoid this unfortunate outcome and instead look forward to showing off your gorgeously straight and healthy teeth.
Do you have any questions for us about caring for your braces? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you!